“Defund the Police” Backfires: Major Cities Feeling the Loss of Police Funding

"Demonstrators Smog" (CC BY 2.0) by Hermann.Click

Cities in different parts of the country that slashed the funding for their police department have seen an uptick in certain crimes over the past year. 

According to data analyzed by Fox News, cities such as Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, Oregon, and Austin have shifted funds from police departments to social service programs. 

This movement had led some departments to lay off officers, cancel recruiting classes, or retreat from hiring goals. In addition to this, some big cities have also seen drastic upticks in murders and other violent crimes, as police departments were left to make do with shrunken budgets and less support. 

In Portland, Oregon, records show that murders more than tripled year after year. Police statistics from July 2020, the month when the city’s budget cuts were made, and this past February, has shown that homicide cases skyrocketed by 270.6% compared to the same time last year. 

Read more: Antifa Attacks Portland Police Amid Ongoing Unrest

In the first two months of 2021 alone, Portland reported 17 murders, a 1,600% increase from the single murder that was reported at the same time last year. 

In New York City, according to NYPD crime statistics, murders are up to 11.8%, with 776 reported murder cases this year compared to 68 in 2020. 

However, the number of shootings skyrocketed in 2021, with 220 reported cases as of March 21 compared to the 157 recorded shootings at the same time last year. 

It can be noted that the New York City Council had voted in July 2020 to move $1 billion away from the NYPD’s budget and move it to social services in 2021. 

Cuts came from canceling nearly 1,200-person police recruiting class over the summer, halving overtime spending, redeploying officers from administrative functions to patrol, and ending police responsibility for school crossing guards and homeless outreach. The police department gave up control over public school security.

In Los Angeles, LAPD reported a 28.3% increase in murders as of March 13, 2021, with 77 killings reported this year compared to the 60 reported during the same time last 2020. 

The number of shootings also nearly doubled from 157 reported through March 13, 2020, compared to a whopping number of 303 this March 2021. 

In July last year, City leaders voted to cut the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget by $150 million. This reduced the number of officers to a level not seen for more than a decade. 

Meanwhile, just last month, House Democrats passed the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide. This move was made as they tried to avoid a potential clash with moderates in their own party who were wary of reigniting the “defund the police” debate. 

“The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” who is named after the man whose killing by police in Minnesota sparked demonstrations nationwide, intends to ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement while creating national standards for policing in a bid to reinforce accountability and was first approved last summer only to stall in the then-Republican controlled Senate. 

The bill’s endorsement came despite the bill’s prohibition on “qualified immunity,” which basically protects law enforcement officers from certain lawsuits. This is one of the main provision which had to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate.

Another possible provision for contention is easing the standards for the prosecution of law enforcement officers who are accused of wrongdoing. 

“Antifa” (CC BY 2.0) by Chad Davis

Meanwhile, police unions, together with other law enforcement groups, argued that without legal protections, police officers would fear lawsuits. This will also deter people from becoming police officers.

On the other hand, California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge that some House members who support that bill are facing. 

Bass said, “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police.”

She called provisions limiting qualified immunity as well as those changing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.”