Violent crime across the country continues to increase, overall, and the data continues to place a large portion of the blame for that rise on the “defund the police” crowd pressuring cities to hamstring their police departments.
The George Floyd riots and protests over the summer of 2020 led some U.S. cities to question the role and scope of local policing, with some cities going as far as cutting police budgets and essential units. However, the results of some of those changes have equaled a 25% increase in the homicide rate in less than a year, according to USA Today.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data revealed that there were over 20,000 murders in 2020, which was 4,000 more than in 2019. The numbers correlate to thousands of fewer arrests in major U.S. cities like New York City, New York (-45,000), Chicago, Illinois (-31,000), and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (-33%).
In the aforementioned cities and in others, homicides increased significantly, including in St. Louis, Missouri, which experienced a staggering 98% increase.
Preventive policing makes a difference
Former Baltimore, Maryland deputy police commissioner Jason Johnson wrote in a USA Today op-ed that the difference is in preventive policing, which is what seems to go by the wayside when groups like Black Lives Matter and others pressure city leaders into “reforming” police departments.
Reactive policing, which is a law enforcement response after a crime has already been committed, is not sufficient to keep crime rates down, Johnson said.
When the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) interfered with Chicago police officers’ ability to make routine stops and searches in 2015, street stops fell 82% while homicides skyrocketed 58%, according to data from the Chicago Tribune.
Generally, the research indicates that every time preventive policing activities are reduced in a city, for whatever reason, the end result seems to be higher numbers of homicides.
Time to rethink defunding
The rising trend in homicides has carried over into 2021 so far, with the FBI seeing an 18% uptick in homicides during the first three months of 2021.
As a result of the noticeable increase in violent crimes, especially homicides, some cities have begun to rethink their previous cuts to police budgets and confusing messaging to street-level police officers encouraging them to take a more hands-off approach to their jobs.
One prime example is that after cutting $12 million from law enforcement budgets and eliminating three critical police units, which resulted in a 255% increase in murders, Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) reinstituted some of the disbanded units and put $2 million back into the police budget.
Increasingly, those within the ranks of law enforcement leadership in various cities have poured funding into psychological and preventive services that make up part of what the “defund the police” crowd advocate, anyway. Continuing to defund police departments will only take away from those efforts without any added benefits.