The civil unrest that followed last year’s death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody prompted demands from far-left activists for an array of anti-police reforms that many communities across the country were shockingly willing to adopt, and the tragic consequences of those moves are becoming more apparent with each passing day.
As Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund points out in an opinion piece for USA Today, the United States saw over 20,000 murders in 2020 – the highest tally since 1995 – and argues that the main driver of that sad statistic is the highly-politicized push to restrict the ability of police to effectively do their jobs.
The protests and destructive rioting that swept cities across the country last year resulted in an alarming trend among public officials to display outright hostility toward law enforcement officers, leaving them not just demoralized, but in many instances, forced to operate without the financial and staffing resources necessary to fulfill their sworn duties.
According to Johnson, data collected for the period of June 2020 through February of this year reveal that in 10 large American cities, violent crime escalated in tandem with a decline in engaged policing. The most significant increases in murder rates were seen in municipalities that either cut or threatened to slash funding for law enforcement.
A prime example of such a scenario can be seen in the case of Minneapolis itself, where the City Council was forced to backtrack on its earlier pledge to defund its police department following Floyd’s death and the resultant riots that gripped the region. The decision was made after residents implored city leaders to hire additional police officers to address unacceptable response times and a notable rise in violent crime, as Fox News reported, and now the department will receive an additional $6.4 million in funding.
Minneapolis is not alone in reversing course on a knee-jerk response to radical police reform demands, as liberal Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler, who cut $12 million from his city’s law enforcement budget this summer, recently announced plans to reinstate the department’s Gun Violence Reduction Team and devote $2 million to its activities. This decision came in response to a 255% rise in murders and a 173% increase in overall gun violence witnessed since his original decision, as Johnson noted.
Widespread calls to defund and otherwise curtail the ability of police to carry out their responsibilities have also led to a personnel crisis of significant proportions. As the New York Post reported last fall, the number of NYPD members who applied for retirement since anti-law enforcement protests engulfed the nation jumped roughly 87% in a phenomenon that has been replicated in major city departments across the country.
Further complicating matters is the concerning trend toward limiting or eliminating altogether the qualified immunity traditionally granted to law enforcement officers that shields them from civil liability for actions committed in the course of their duties, provided they did not violate another citizen’s constitutional rights. Just last week, New Mexico joined Colorado and Connecticut in ending such immunity, and the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a reform bill that would also eliminate availability of this particular legal defense.
As Johnson rightly points out, “when the Thin Blue Line retreats, violence charges in,” and the sooner lawmakers around the country take note of the carnage and lawlessness that inevitably follows their uncritical acquiescence to leftist demands, the safer all Americans will be.