Fewer police lead to higher murders

ABC News recently reported that a dozen cities had passed a record they did not want to surpass.  Yet, with three weeks left in 2021, those major cities have already set a new record high for homicides in their jurisdictions.  One of the twelve cities, Austin, Texas, broke a record since 1984, when it hit 60 homicides.  Six other cities (Toledo, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; St. Paul, Minnesota; Louisville, Kentucky; Columbus, Ohio; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana) broke records they set in 2020.

The other cities with record-high homicides are Portland, Oregon; Rochester, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Tucson, Arizona; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This is not how America should be, where citizens have to worry about being killed.  On the contrary, it is a trend that we should be demanding get turned around — not by defunding our police, but by increasing enforcement.  "Experts say there are some reasons possibly connected to the jump in homicides, including strained law enforcement staffing, a pronounced decline in arrests and continuing hardships from the pandemic, but that there is no clear answer across the board," according to ABC.

LeRonne Armstrong, police chief in Oakland, California, told ABC that "one of the reasons he suspects" "why his city is seeing the highest number of homicides in decades" is a lack of resources.  This includes both financial and human resources.

Politicians in some cities and states responded to pressure from activists last year and reduced funding to their police departments.  In other departments, police officers chose to retire rather than continue to lay their lives on the line with fewer and fewer options for defending themselves.  For example, Oakland's police department has 676 officers, 70 fewer than in 2020.

"To have 70, nearly 70 fewer officers a year later," Armstrong said, "is definitely going to have an impact on our ability to address public safety."  A Police Executive Research Forum survey found that police retirements had increased 45 percent between 2020 and 2021, with another 18 percent of officers resigning.

In Seattle, one of the cities that experienced rioting after the death of George Floyd in 2020, 180 officers left the police department last year, and 66 more officers have gone so far this year.  "I have about 1,080 deployable officers.  This is the lowest I've seen our department," police chief Adrian Diaz said.

If people want to see crime reduced, then the police need to do their jobs.  They need to be able to enforce the law and make arrests, and if they can make a case, they need to see those cases go to trial.  That is not happening.

The FBI's crime data show that arrests fell 24 percent in 2020 — from more than 10 million in 2019 to 7.63 million — to the lowest number in a quarter-century.

If municipal governments want to lower crime in their cities, they need to support their police departments.  An excellent way to start doing that is funding police departments so they can hire the officers they need and equip them properly.

The good news for Democrat politicians who defunded the police in the first place is that their constituents want to have their police re-funded and out on the streets doing their job.

In Maryland, where President Joe Biden received more than 65 percent of the vote, a Washington Free Beacon survey found that 88 percent of Black voters, a group that votes heavily Democrat, support Gov. Larry Hogan's efforts to add another $150 million to the budget for local and state police.  Among Latino Maryland voters, support is 74 percent.  Yet, despite the overwhelming support to increase funding, Democrat politicians are calling the move divisive and misguided.

While proper funding is necessary, the public also need to support the police in their mission to protect and serve.  This means we must stop assuming that in police shootings, police are at fault.  While this has happened, it is rare.  Typically, it's the fault of the criminal.  More often than not, one fights crime.  The other engages in it.  You don't have to like the police, but at least show them the support they deserve for upholding the rule of law in the face of danger.

Michael A. Letts is the CEO and Founder of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs. 

Photo credit: Stephen MelkisethianCC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

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