A surging national murder rate has emboldened critics of the Defund the Police movement.
Calls to neuter law enforcement hasn’t led to signing Kumbaya with violent criminals. Despite progressive hopes, the FBI confirmed that the 2020 murder surge was one for the record books. In fact, last year represented the single largest increase in murders since the Bureau began national record-keeping in the 1960s.
And it wasn’t even close.
According to the Uniform Crime Report, the previous record-breaking year, 1968 (a year synonymous with turmoil) witnessed a 12.7% increase in murders. Whereas 2020 had a 29% increase.
The number of homicides per 100,000 Americans remains significantly below the violent crime rates of the early 1990s. Although that’s not exactly comforting to citizens who fear becoming a victim of crime more so than in years past.
For police that fear is even more palpable. To emphasize, the National Fraternal Order of Police report ambush-style attacks against law enforcement have risen 153% from last year.
So far in 2021, violent offenders have shot 260 peace officers. Forty-eight have died. But even rural areas aren’t immune to the rising violence.
A National Phenomenon
The national murder rate increased in every geographic region and in counties won by Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
Writing for the Daily Torch, Catherine Mortensen paints an unusually grim picture:
Police advocates note that 372 police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2020 compared with 151 the previous year, a 146% increase.
“When police are in fear of being criminally charged for doing their jobs, they can’t do their jobs,” said James Fotis, president of the Police Officers Defense Coalition, a group that defends officers charged in the line of duty.
Our leaders in their infinite wisdom should have seen this coming—but they didn’t.
Warning Signs Flashed for Years
The fallout from the unfortunate death of Freddie Grey in 2015 led to a wave of killings that turned Baltimore into America’s deadliest big city. While they still answer calls for help, officers weary of prosecution turn a blind eye to open-air drug dealing and other violations.
Former Baltimore City Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle told the press “In all candor, officers are not as aggressive as they once were, pre-2015.”
In Baltimore, the effects of the campaign against police had immediate and lasting consequences. They’re no longer unique to that city.
Fotis said in many large cities police are simply not responding to calls out of concern for their own safety. “They are only responding to major crimes. We had a recent case in Florida where a 29-year old officer was shot and killed in a routine traffic stop. These officers don’t know what is going to happen to them when they go out on a call. Police are not Superman,” Fotis added. “They have families like the rest of us. They cannot do their jobs when their hands are tied behind their backs.”
Kyle Reyes, national spokesman for Law Enforcement Today, said “anybody with a head on their shoulders knew that if you remove funding from police, there is going to be a negative impact.”
“Crime is spreading from these big cities that defunded their police into outlying communities and small towns and neighborhoods ,” Reyes explained. “Because cities like Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York aren’t arresting criminals, these thugs are able to continue their crime sprees in the smaller communities. It’s a ripple effect.”
Why Cops Are Quitting
Besides increasing scrutiny, low morale is driving officers away from the jobs they once loved. Departments nationwide struggle to hold on to their officers, much less attract new ones.
The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) recorded a 45% increase the retirement rate between 2020 and 2021.
In response to the findings, PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler told NPR that we’re in “uncharted territory.” While a police exodus is occurring nationally, the flight in progressive cities is especially pronounced. That’s not surprising given their anti-police climate. Louisville, Kentucky’s police force shrunk by 20% in 2020. Meanwhile, New York City lost 5,300 police officers after the State of New York ended qualified immunity. And despite next month’s vote to scrap its police force, Minneapolis had find additional funding to prop up its floundering department.
Wexler now worries that “the job of being a police officer today simply isn’t as appealing as it has been in the past.”
What Will Halt the Exodus?
Reyes said some police departments have flat-out canceled incoming classes for new recruits leading to low staffing levels and burnout for officers.
“We have a very aggressive push to remove qualified immunity from law enforcement and so all of the sudden you have officers that are facing losing their careers, their homes, their families, their retirements, for simply doing their job,” Reyes explained. “A lot of these guys are looking at it thinking, ‘If I stay an extra two years I might get a few extra points on my retirement. Forget it, it’s not worth the risk that I’m going to lose it all.'”
Both Fotis and Reyes said the only way to save our cities and communities is by getting involved and holding our elected officials accountable.
We need people to stop being the silent majority,” Reyes said. “As concerned patriotic Americans, we’ve been silent as this Defund movement has spread. People have taken the Thin Blue Line stickers off their cars, because they were afraid of being accused of being racist. It became cool to attack police.”
Flotis said if we don’t make a change in leadership at the state and local levels, crime will only get worse. “Being a police officer is not a job anyone wants anymore.”
Unfortunately, “wokeness” doesn’t only threaten Democrats’ electoral prospects in 2022. It threatens our entire country.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of American Liberty News.