Recently, it has been reported by Fox Television that police officers are “leaving the New York Police Department in droves.” Statistics show that hundreds more officers have retired this year than in the same period last year. Not exclusive to New York City, many other metropolises are struggling with shortages of police. The shocking rise in the number of police retirements in cities throughout the U.S. is associated with a lack of professional support, the unfair demonizing of all police by the media and public, and poor leadership response to the defund the police movement.
The effort to defund police is tied into the black lives matter movement in protest of police brutality. The purpose is to prevent people of color from being the disproportionate targets of violence, imprisonment, and death. The anti-police slogan, often seen on signs at protests, has several meanings. Some activists call for the total abolishment and dismantling of the police. They believe that policing does not make their city streets any safer, nor do they feel that reform measures will work. Some accuse the police of supporting white supremacy. Other pro-defund the police activists call for the reduction of police department budgets, rather than a total dismantling, to redistribute funds toward housing, employment, mental health, education, and other social programs.
Critics of the movement state that taking funds from police departments will harm the ability to train existing officers and provide professional development to counteract bad policing tactics. Most favor training to address the current racial crises we see today and support some reform as a method to increase peace within communities. They view defunding and punishing all police for the poor actions of a few as counterproductive, as police officers take an oath to serve and protect all citizens. Many critics of defund the police fear that the movement will backfire, recognizing that budget and service cuts to the police will lead to more crime.
The defund the police movement, strongly supported by some on the left, has increased anti-police sentiment, making officers targets of violent crimes. In Philadelphia, a police sergeant was struck by a pickup truck and a cop car was set on fire during the Walter Wallace Jr. demonstrations last month. During the protests, which included rioting, 30 officers were injured, and more than 30 people were arrested for looting and throwing rocks and bricks to injure police. The job of police officers has become so increasingly dangerous that mass retirements are occurring across cities, and many young officers are questioning their profession.
The public’s fear over the demise of the police has led to a surge in gun purchases, a reflection of the need for self-protection. One must ask, if the left is sincere about wanting a reduction of gun violence, why are some pushing to make America less safe by defunding the police, allowing crime to go up, and forcing people to take the law into their own hands? In addition, if we defund the police, who will people call for help during emergencies? On Nov. 1, Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who promotes police budget cuts, found herself in a predicament involving a Lyft driver who canceled her ride over a window dispute and asked her to step out of his vehicle. She called 911. Hardesty, who oversees the Bureau of Emergency Management, said, “I don’t call 911 lightly, but I certainly am not going to do anything that would put my personal safety at risk.” It is perplexing that she is pushing to defund the very system she depends upon.
In September, nine Minneapolis City Council members declared their commitment to defunding and dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department. The City Council moved $1.1 million from the police to the health department. Dozens of officers quit their jobs due to hardships related to the city’s effort to defund them. Now, crime is skyrocketing. Fox News shares that arson is up 76%, assaults are up 24%, homicides are up 87%, and robberies are up 37%. The city has also reported a whopping 76 carjackings over the last month and a half. These statistics are warning signs that our cities are becoming more dangerous.
The unprecedented violence in Minneapolis has caused Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to plead, “Our resources are hemorrhaging, our city is bleeding at this moment, and I’m trying to do all I can to stop the bleeding.” The city is now desperate to draft-in police from the local sheriff’s office and transit authority to deal with growing violence occurring on the streets. Inarguably, police brutality needs to end. However, to defund the police, whether by abolishment or stripping of funds, will exacerbate issues by preventing the robust training of quality officers who are sworn to defend and protect us.