“Defund” extracted a terrible toll on public safety. Now, local police departments and at-risk communities are paying the price.
“Don’t Count Out Crime as a 2022 Midterm Issue,” warned the Wall Street Journal back on August 18, 2022. “Cashless bail, ‘defund the police’ and unsafe streets add up to danger at the polls for Democrats.”
“Americans are anxious about crime, and that could spell more trouble for Democrats in November,” is how the WSJ broke the bad news. “A Council on Criminal Justice study of 22 U.S. cities found that the number of homicides in 2021 was 44% higher than in 2019. According to an April Gallup poll, 80% of Americans worry about crime and 53% worry a ‘great deal’.”
Exactly two months later the crime wave, “largely the byproduct of far-left criminal-justice and policing reforms that Democratic cities and states have adopted over the past few years,” such as, “sweeping and indiscriminate police budget cuts, reckless sentencing guidelines and cashless bail,” as the WSJ put it, has only gotten worse.
The media landscape has since been littered with think pieces about, “How ‘defund’ failed,” and lamentations about the evaporation of support for criminal justice reform in the wake of rising crime unlike anything Americans have seen in decades.
Recently, several Democratic lawmakers have experienced crime first hand. Two Democratic lawmakers were carjacked in Chicago and Philadelphia and Rep. Karen Bass was the victim of a burglary in Los Angeles.
“Here we go again,” wrote media personality Donna Brazile for The Grio on September 28, 2022: “Republicans are using attack ads to portray Democrats as soft on crime to stoke racial fears ahead of the midterm election.”
The purely political “Republicans Pounce” argument might be convincing but for a few salient points:
- Republican attack ads portraying Democrats as soft on crime would do little good without devastating crime statistics to go with it.
- If a 70% decline in prosecuting felonies and misdemeanors- which is Philadelphia progressive prosecutor Larry Krasner’s record- doesn’t constitute “soft on crime”, what does?
- Victims of the growing crime wave hail from every demographic.
- Concerns about increasing levels of crime are emanating from everywhere and everyone.
Perhaps even more compelling, cities run by members of the Democratic Party are suffering the most from rising crime- and the most disproportionately.
If this isn’t because of a lack of effective law enforcement, what is to blame?
Closing public schools for two years in Democratic strongholds probably didn’t do much good. In the years to come, we will almost certainly be seeing plenty of evidence to support a clear correlation between the shuttering of in-person schools and the rise in crimes committed by juveniles in those same areas.
Who but juveniles would rob a store, then dump the empty cash-registers on the lawn of the Governor’s mansion?
Crimes against police officers are up nationwide, too.
Two police officers were killed and a third was injured in what investigators believe was an intentional ambush in Bristol, Connecticut, on October 12. Body-cam footage shows the wounded police officer shooting the ambush suspect, who was declared dead at the scene.
In Philadelphia that same day, three police officers were shot and wounded as a police SWAT team tried to arrest a man wanted for homicide.
“The fact that there are this many incidents with SWAT officers being fired upon is not normal,” said First Deputy Police Commissioner John Stanford. “We have come to believe this is a normal course of events: It’s not.”
Across the nation, ambush-style assaults on police officers are on the rise. Over the summer, two officers were ambushed and killed in El Monte, California, after responding to a call about a stabbing incident.
As of September, there had already been 63 such attacks in 2022.
“In 2021, data from the FBI showed the highest number of law enforcement officers intentionally killed in the line of duty since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks 20 years before,” reported WHSV 3 on October 17, 2022.
“We are tired of arresting the same suspects over and over again, only to see them right back out on the street to continue and sometimes escalate their criminal ways,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. “We are tired of having to send our officers into harm’s way to serve warrants on suspects who have no business being on the street in the first place.”
“Residents are tired of it. Business owners are tired of it. Our children are tired of it. We are long past enough is enough.”
“Why Anti-Police Activism Kills,” wrote former-Democratic Party stalwart turned coal-mine canary Michael Shellenberger November 24, 2021.
“In response to anti-police protests, many officers quit, resulting in shortages and a spike in avoidable deaths, from homicides to heart attacks, of innocents,” Shellenberger warned.
Incidents of delayed medical care, a rapid-onset increase of violent and property crimes, even entire city blocks taken over by anti-police protestors for months on end: A new sense of lawlessness is getting harder and harder to ignore.
“Counter to the claims of those who advocate defunding the police as a way to reduce violence, the evidence suggests that fewer cops may mean more police misconduct, because the remaining officers must work longer and more stressful hours,” found Shallenberger.
While many city governments, and twice as many Democrats, back as far away from “defund” as they can possibly get, furiously back-peddling all the way, other progressives are determined to go even further.
Police officers and public safety advocates are terrified of the recently-passed SAFE-T Act in Illinois, which will go into effect January 1, 2023. Critics of the bill argue it will release violent repeat offenders back into the streets to terrorize their victims are further erode police morale.
From 50% murder clearance rate, to 911 calls going unanswered, police departments in the areas hardest hit by rising crime are drowning under the weight of what they are being asked to do.
“Defund the police,” might have made a nice hashtag; it sure looked good on those protest signs. It was The Virtue Signaling Cause Celeb for about a month or two.
Unfortunately, police officers, public safety, and a growing group of crime victims from all walks of life, are now paying a hefty price.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)