May 25, 2020 would mark the death of Minnesota man George Floyd. The video of Floyd’s death spread like wildfire. Riots ensued, tensioning law enforcement and minority relations. Shortly after Floyd’s death, “Defund The Police” was born. This movement calls to move funding from law enforcement to social programs, urban youth, housing, and the general community. Radical sub-movements explicitly called for the complete abolition of police instead of only defunding them.
Politics are downstream from culture – and this cultural shift had much legislative influence. According to a liberal leaning research group, 840 million dollars were divested from American police departments following George Floyd’s death. Certainly, if there were positive outcomes from these changes they would be observable. It’s been a little over a year since then. Now, an opportunity arises to investigate the consequences of the funding changes and cultural shift.
There are data out there that suggest sudden police layoffs are associated with higher crime rates. Last year Dr. Eric Piza of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Dr. Vijay Chillar of Rutgers University published their study wherein they analyzed the crime rate trends in two New Jersey cities before and after police layoffs. They found the city that had more police layoffs experienced a significant increase in crimes over time, more than the other city. But, instead of relying on academic studies we can look at real time examples like New York City, Seattle, and Baltimore.
The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, proposed to divest 1 billion dollars from the NYPD last year. De Blasio never followed up with his proposal, but nonetheless, anti-police sentiment in New York City remained high in 2020. And now in 2021, the The New York Post reports 5300 police officers either retired or resigned from the NYPD – as thought to be a result of this anti-police sentiment. Their police weren’t defunded, but in effect, the anti-police sentiment had analogous effects (absence of police officers) to actual defunding. After this mass exodus of police officers New York City saw an 73% increase in hate crimes (much of them Asian hate-crimes) and a staggering 83% increase in shooting incidents. Thankfully, de Blasio did not follow through with the entire budget change, but unfortunately the surrounding anti-police sentiment and new qualified immunity laws left the city without enough police officers and more crime.
The Seattle story is no different. Seattle was rife with anti-police sentiment following Floyd’s death. Last November the city council voted in favor to cut 20% of their police department’s funding, and since then, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (Seattle’s home county) reports a 33% increase in shooting incidents. Just last weekend 6 shooting incidents left 4 dead in the city (original article written in July). In a response to these crimes the mayor called for more police during a Monday press conference. It’s ironic one of the most anti-police cities in America and home of the former BLM-ANTIFA autonomous zone has back-pedaled in their stance.
One of the most dangerous cities in America took a shot at defunding their police, too. Baltimore’s mayor cut 22 million dollars from their police department last year, and sure enough, the city has seen a 17% increase in homicides in 2021. The mayor expressed his concerns to a Fox News Reporter, as quoted, “We’ve had a number of discussions with our entire team. We’re very concerned about the increase in violent crime in the city”. Baltimore has since then refunded their police, albeit to no surprise. It’s questionable as to why a city on its way to hit 300 homicides for the 7th consecutive year would defund their police in the first place.
Undoubtedly, defunding police and the anti-police culture (which resulted in police absence) in these crime-stricken cities has only hurt the minorities advocates claim to stand for. Advocating to defund the police might not be indicative of virtuousness, but perhaps a resentment for police officers and America itself.