Democratic politicians at every level, from President-elect Joe Biden down to local city councilmen, reacted to recent incidents of police misconduct by hastily encouraging or even joining in calls to “defund the police.” But they rapidly realized they had made a grave mistake — that their spineless pandering to the woke mob might for once come at a steep political cost, not to mention a societal cost as well.
Consequently, to cover their own backsides, Democrats tried to redefine the idea of “defunding” the police, relying heavily on cover from the liberal media.
“Defund,” they began to assert, didn’t actually mean “defund” at all. No one was going to take money away from the men and women who are keeping crime at bay and detaining the dangerous criminals who victimize their constituents. Rather, “defund” would now mean simply “reallocation.” It might even mean the opposite of the word’s literal dictionary meaning — that cities and states would spend more money, not less, on law enforcement, but with a greater focus on alternative methods of conflict resolution, social programs, and other measures supposedly capable of deterring crime.
For most Democrats, this new argument was just as disingenuous as the first one had been. They stupidly jumped on a bandwagon in order to placate a woke mob, then realized that the bandwagon was rolling off a cliff. Their problem is that you cannot define away a cliff — you can only fall off of it.
As of this writing, the true believers in the movement have indeed been defunding the police. As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York noted recently, “Los Angeles has cut its police budget by $150 million. Seattle has cut $69 million. San Francisco has cut $60 million over the next two years. Denver has cut $50 million. All the cuts are between 10 and 20% of the cities’ police budgets.” Moreover, cities such as Houston, Oakland, and Portland, Maine, have barred their police from serving in certain roles (on school grounds, for example), and Atlanta’s mayor has even been making noises about closing the city jail.
The results are in, at least partially. According to preliminary data for 57 police agencies analyzed by AH Datalytics co-founder Jeff Asher, as of the third quarter, violent crime had barely changed year over year on a national basis. But when you isolate cities that ostentatiously disbanded or defunded their police departments, violent crime was up — particularly in Minneapolis (up 19% as of September), Denver (up 11% as of July 31), and Houston (up 17% as of Aug. 31).
These numbers are still incomplete, and correlation does not necessarily imply causation. But at the very least, crime problems are developing for jurisdictions that took the strongest and most public anti-police positions, and their leaders have chosen to tie their own hands in the face of a growing criminal threat to the innocent. This spike in crime also came in a year when people were spending less time than usual outside of their own homes and should, therefore, be less prone to armed robbery and kidnapping.
Unfortunately, murder was up 36% across the board in 2020, including in prominent jurisdictions that did not defund their police. But murder was up by 41% in Atlanta, 53% in Denver, and 78% in Minneapolis.
Since long before the Black Lives Matter movement existed, we have argued in this space for sensible police reforms that would increase transparency and make forces more professional and more accountable for their use of force. But “defunding” is the opposite of such reforms. In fact, defunding police might be one of the worst possible measures for curtailing police abuses — a counterproductive measure, in fact. One of the main problems with the police is that they are terribly underpaid, such that the job is less likely to attract dedicated civil servants hoping to make a profitable career out of doing good and increasingly likely to attract people interested in wielding power. The low pay is far less likely to attract officers with college degrees, who are 40% less likely to use force in the course of their duties.
Moreover, there are many expenses that go beyond police salaries. It costs money to train police well. Cities that defund their police forces are cutting their own throats, taking enormous risks by sending low-paid rookies with inferior training out into the streets, and handing them guns and a veneer of authority that, in many cases, exceeds their maturity level.
The zealots are indeed defunding the police, and the consequences, already ominous, are likely to get worse with time. It would be worth Democrats’ while to disown this terrible idea, to say nothing of the benefit it would have for the common good
Author : Washington Examiner
Source : Washington Examiner : They really are ‘defunding’ the police, and it’s not going well