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Back Door Corporate Funding Of Law Enforcement


DP Veteran
Dec 1, 2017
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Corporate Funding of Police Foundations

The lavish overfunding of the police goes beyond public money.


This article is from the (forthcoming) July/August 2020 issue.

The ongoing protests against police brutality in the United States are revealing on a mass scale that police enforce a social order that places the value of capital and property above Black lives. As a result, calls to defund the police are gaining traction and police budgets are now under increased scrutiny, and for good reason—on average their budgets account for 20-45% of an entire municipal budget, which is typically the largest public expenditure for any city.

However, in addition to their bloated public budgets, police departments have another source of funding that gets little attention and requires no public oversight: police foundations.

Police foundations across the country partner with corporations to raise money to supplement police budgets. While public budgets require approval from elected officials, foundation money can be spent without that public oversight. Moreover, police foundations are spaces where corporations and the police can maintain and strengthen their alliance and collaboration with one another. Annual fundraising events and parties like the Atlanta Police Foundation’s “A Night in Blue” gala and the Chicago Police Foundation’s “True Blue” event are huge moneymakers. The NYC Police Foundation reported that it raised $5.5 million from its annual benefit in 2019.

Foundations then turn around and spend that cash on programs, surveillance tech, body armor, weaponry, and more. The Houston Police Foundation purchased SWAT equipment, Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) sound equipment, and dogs for their K-9 unit. The Philadelphia Police Foundation purchased long guns, drones, and ballistic helmets. The Atlanta Police Foundation helped fund a surveillance network of over 12,000 cameras.

In Los Angeles, the police foundation purchased controversial surveillance software that would have typically required public meetings and approval from city council. Since the equipment was purchased by the foundation, the LAPD was able to bypass that oversight. Perhaps more importantly, however, foundations provide a key space where the relationship between the corporate elite and police forces are solidified. These public-private structures serve to normalize, celebrate, and reward those who uphold the racist social order that is now on full display.

What could Seattle do with $......

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