WASHINGTON, DC, Jan 9 — There was a time, not so long ago, when citizens greeted their cops on the beat with a meaningful, “thanks for your service.” That was before “defund the police” became the rallying cry of leftist ingrates a couple of years ago. The movement came and went but it left behind a nationwide law enforcement crisis that lingers today and makes us less safe.
Across the country police departments are short on staff and efforts to recruit new police officers are failing, leaving communities unprotected. As former policeman David Smith put it in an interview with the Epoch Times, “If you want me to risk my life, it’s one thing to pay me, but it’s another to respect me.” In its report, the Times noted that across the country undermanned police departments are having a hard time recruiting new officers. For example, the New York Police Department needs to hire 4,000 cops to replace the officers it lost and when the police department in Phoenix, AZ sought to recruit some 1,000 new officers it was able to attract only 35 applicants.
But it is not just America’s big cities that are reeling from the defund the police movement; towns such as Burlington, VT, population less than 45,000 residents, reported its highest homicide rate in more than six decades. A Fox News feature revealed in December that there were five murders committed in 2022. According to Fox, Burlington is considered to be one of the safest cities in the U.S. and, while five homicides may not sound like it was a particularly dangerous number, as Mayor Miro Weinberger put it, “We are not used to this level of violence in Vermont.” The town’s acting Police Chief Jon Murad explained that “Our reliable computer data goes back to 2012, and our general data goes back to 1960. In all that time, 62 years, five murders is the most we’ve ever recorded in a single calendar year.”
The Fox report noted that Burlington is considered to be a progressive city — Bernie Sanders was mayor there in the 1980s — and that it was among the first localities to begin defunding the police. And so in 2020 they cut its police force from a maximum of 105 officers to 74 officers. They also cut its school resource officer program and repurposed its funding to pay for racial justice programs. The Burlington Police Officers Association was quick to caution that “reducing the number of rank and file officers on the street without first reducing the demand for police services will needlessly risk the lives of the most vulnerable in our community and of the police officers whose job it is to protect them.”
It finally dawned on the city council that “defund the police” was a wrong-headed thing to do and so the final tally was that the town was left with a less than sufficient number police officers as of the end of 2022. Chief Murad said “officers felt unsupported and staffing quickly plummeted. Last autumn, as headcount continued to fall and crime increased, the council raised the cap to 87. But that did not stop the departures. Our current staffing is 62.”
The disrespect of the defund the police movement has triggered the police shortage and a rise in crime across the country. An FBI report says that 2022 was a particularly dangerous year to be a policeman, one of the three most dangerous years for cops over the past two decades.
John Grimaldi served on the first non-partisan communications department in the New York State Assembly and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Priva Technologies, Inc. He has served for more than thirty years as a Trustee of Daytop Village Foundation, which oversees a worldwide drug rehabilitation network.