Don’t Believe the People Blaming Crime on Defunded Police

Police budgets are up in cities across America. It’s a tale as old as time that politicians benefit by whipping up crime panic and accusing opponents of being soft on the issue. And so it goes in 2022, with candidates—mostly conservatives, but also some Democrats trying to position themselves as centrists—insisting that 1) crime is rising, and 2) it’s the fault of criminal justice reform policies. Both claims are highly suspect (see this recent Roundup for more on crime data), and especially so the flavor of blame that suggests this mythical crime wave is the fault of liberals and progressives “defunding the police.”

Yes, “defund the police” became a popular rallying cry in the summer of 2020, as people all over the country took to the streets to protest police brutality. And, yes, it can still be heard as a refrain in some activist circles. But even as some mainstream politicians briefly flirted with this rhetoric, it’s never been a serious policy proposal, nor one that many (if any) leaders—local or national—have acted upon.

President Joe Biden—long a friend of the police and proponent of dubious crime panic policies—recently proposed in his Safer America Plan some $37 billion in federal funding for cops. “President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget requests a fully paid-for new investment of approximately $35 billion to support law enforcement and crime prevention – in addition to the President’s $2 billion discretionary request for these same programs,” noted the White House.

Cities and counties, too, have been raising police budgets. ABC News “examined the budgets of more than 100 cities and counties and found 83% are spending at least 2% more on police in 2022 than in 2019.”

The ABC News analysis included most major big and mid-size metropolitan areas, including Albuquerque, Anchorage, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boise, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York City, Newark, Oakland, Omaha, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and Wichita, among others.

Of the 109 areas examined, 49 raised law enforcement funding by more than 10 percent and 91 raised it by at least 2 percent. Only 8 places cut funding to law enforcement by more than 2 percent.

Nonetheless, politicians, pundits, and police persist in spreading the politically convenient myth that law enforcement agencies have been massively defunded. “Despite what the public record shows, an analysis of broadcast transcripts reveals that candidates, law enforcement leaders and television hosts discussed the impact of ‘defunding the police’ more than 10,000 times the last two years and the mentions aren’t subsiding this campaign season, ABC found.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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