REFUND the police: Cities are reversing cuts to police budgets

REFUND the police: Cities are reversing cuts to police budgets and even increasing them by millions in NYC, Baltimore and LA as violent crime surges a year after mayors met the demands of defund movement

  • Many major cities are reversing prior moves to defund police departments
  • They are reeling after crime soared when they slashed funding for cops last year
  • Murder rate jumped 30% on average in 2020 across 34 large American cities
  • Violent crime continues to increase sharply this year in cities including NYC
  • Now Mayor de Blasio is seeking to reinstate $92 million for new precinct
  • Baltimore mayor wants $27 million funding boost after cutting $22 million
  • Los Angeles mayor proposes increase of $50 million after $150 million in cuts

One year after many U.S. cities gave in to dramatic proposals to slash police department budgets, some are having second thoughts and quietly seeking to boost funding for cops as violent crime soars.

The Democratic mayors of New York City, Baltimore and Los Angeles are among those now backpedaling on their vows to defund the police as they face fury from residents over spiraling crime rates.

Out of the nation’s 20 largest police departments, city leaders have already submitted next year’s budget proposals for 12, and nine of those request funding increases ranging from 1 to 6 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The sea change comes a year after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer spurred calls to defund and even abolish police departments, with many city leaders buckling to meet the demands. 

Meanwhile, the murder rate soared an average of 30 percent across 34 major cities last year, and has continued to increase dramatically this year in many places. 

Demonstrators calling to defund the Minneapolis Police Department march on University Avenue on June 6, 2020. Cities that cut police funding last year are now reconsidering

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott are all backpedaling on their moves to cut police funding

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio reversed course and promised $92 million for a new precinct after scrapping the project last summer as he vowed to slash the NYPD budget by $1 billion. 

Last month, de Blasio admitted that the initial funding cuts were his response to the ‘environment at that moment,’ saying the city now had more funds available due to federal stimulus.

In Baltimore, Mayor Brandon Scott, who last year led efforts to cut police funding by $22 million as a city councilman, is now pleading with the council for an increase of $27 million.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed an increase of about $50 million after the city cut $150 million from the LAPD budget last year.

In Oakland, California, city lawmakers last month restored $3.3 million of the $29 million in police cuts, and Mayor Libby Schaaf is now proposing to increase the department’s budget by another $24 million. 

In Minneapolis, the city cut $8 million from the department last year, but facing an exodus of cops and rising crime, restored $6.4 million. 

In Chicago, there were 278 more murders in 2020, which equated to a 55% surge year-over-year, while New York City’s 131 added homicides accounted for a 43% jump

National Commission of COVID-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ) released a study which found that murder rates in 34 American cities rose nearly 30 per cent in 2020

‘If you want to fix policing you have to hire cops, you have to train them differently and hold them accountable,’ Chuck Wexler, the Police Executive Research Forum’s executive director, told the Journal. 

‘The notion that taking away resources is going to improve policing is ridiculous,’ he said. 

In New York, elected leaders have had to face facts as shootings soar and seemingly random attacks on strangers regularly make headlines. 

So far this year, shooting incidents in the city are up 82 percent from last year, and murders are 22 percent from last year and 45 percent from 2019 levels. 

In total in 2021, there have been 32,695 major crimes reported. There have been nearly 400 more major crimes reported this week in New York than there were in the same week last year – a surge in 30 percent. 

‘We have a major crime problem in New York City,’ Governor Andrew Cuomo admitted at a press conference on Wednesday.

A man was slashed in the neck on the subway platform at the Union Square station earlier this month. The incident was reported around 4 p.m. on the L train platform

Atlanta councilman who voted to defund police is nearly killed by carjackers  

At a ribbon-cutting in northwest Atlanta, four people hopped into councilman Antonio Brown’s car on Wednesday as he was getting out to speak to someone just before noon – and took off. 

 ‘Several males entered his unlocked car and drove away with it,’ police stated. Brown was driving a Mercedes Coupe, which has a push-button ignition.

He said he held onto the car and was dragged for around a block before letting go. 

The councilman told WSBTV that he was on hold with 911 for five minutes after the incident. Brown also claims it took 45 minutes for police to arrive because it was assigned as a low-priority dispatch. 

Brown is running for mayor of Atlanta on a platform of ‘reimagining public safety’ and has previously expressed support for the ‘Defund the Police’ movement.

‘New Yorkers don’t feel safe and they don’t feel safe because the crime rate is up. It’s not that they are being neurotic or overly sensitive – they are right,’ he said.

Cuomo said the crime wave threatened to derail the city’s recovery from the pandemic, noting: ‘Everything we just talked about, with the economy coming back, you know what the first step is? People have to feel safe.’ 

In a swipe at his political nemesis de Blasio, the governor said that defunding the police was not the correct solution. 

‘Until you restore the trust and make the reforms necessary, we’re going to have this problem — defund the police is not the answer. It basically means abolish the police,’ he said. 

‘That’s going to help? Gun violence is going up, all crimes going up and that’s going to help? No. It’s reform so that the community says – I now trust the relationship. 

‘I am a lifelong New Yorker. I’ve seen this cycle over and over and over again I remember getting on a subway train and making sure there was no jewelry, making sure you weren’t wearing a chain,’ he said. ‘That was real.’

The tension between state and local leaders also played out this week in Texas, where the state legislature is pushing a bill that would severely punish cities that defund their police department.

Aimed primarily at city leaders in Austin, the liberal-dominated state capital, HB 1900 passed the Texas Senate on Monday over the objections of Democrats.

The bill would allow vast tracts of Austin that have been annexed since the 1990s to vote to secede from the city unless police funding is restored.

The secession votes could severely hurt Austin’s budget if they passed, decimating the city’s tax base. The bill would bar Austin from reannexing the areas for 10 years, and only if police funding is restored to prior levels. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, on Sunday vowed to sign into law a bill that would punish large cities for defunding their police agencies. Abbott cited a shooting that took place in Austin on Sunday 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has vowed to sign the bill into law. 

It comes as data continues to show a disturbing national increase in violent crime, with one study showing an increase of 1,200 murders last year compared to 2019. 

‘Homicide rates were higher during every month of 2020 relative to rates from the previous year,’ states a report from the National Commission of COVID-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ)

‘That said, rates increased significantly in June, well after the pandemic began, coinciding with the death of George Floyd and the mass protests that followed,’ the report added.

The group, which was launched in July 2020 by the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice, characterized the homicide rate spike as an ‘historic’ and ‘troubling increase that has no modern precedent.’

The 26-page study examined crime rates for 10 different offenses, including homicide, aggravated assault and robbery, in 34 American cities ranging in size from Norfolk, Virginia – the smallest city in the sample with 245,000 residents – to New York City – the largest city with 8.42 million residents. 

Motor vehicle thefts surged, reaching the highest rates in the fall, as many people worked from home   

Aggravated assault rates in the 34 cities that were part of the study spiked by 6 per cent, compared to last year 

A protester in NYC calls for defunding the police last June. Rising crime rates have many city leaders reconsidering their moves to cut police funding

Homicide rates were 30 percent higher than in 2019, representing 1,268 more deaths in the sample of cities than the year before. Of the 34 cities in the study, 29 experienced a spike in murders.

However, property and drug crime rates, with the exception of motor vehicle theft, fell significantly during 2020 — a trend some researchers attribute to either less community willingness to report minor crimes, or less proactive policing. 

Residential burglary decreased by 24 percent, nonresidential burglary by 7 percent, larceny by 16 percent, and drug offenses by 30 percent. 

Chicago added 278 homicides to its 2019 total of 502, for an increase of 55 percent, while New York added 131 homicides, representing a 43 percent surge. 

‘The three largest cities (New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago) accounted for fully 40% of the 1,268 additional people killed in 2020,’ reads the report. ‘While there is variation among the cities, what is most notable is that homicide rose substantially in the vast majority of them.’ 

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