After two years of record-setting murder rates in America’s cities, The Daily Wire looks into who is enabling this unchecked rise in violent crime and who should be held accountable.
After at least 16 American cities broke homicide records in 2021, now, as we enter the traditionally violent summer months, many of them are on track to surge past last year’s bloody numbers. Cities across the nation are experiencing a two-to-five year upward trend of increasing violent crime – with little to no solutions offered by law enforcement, prosecutors, or state or locally elected leaders. This includes cities where unchecked violent crime was thought to have been “fixed” in the bygone era of the 1980s and 1990s.
Instead, leaders are dodging their responsibility for this rise in violence. From the COVID-19 pandemic (yes, still) to the economy to a consistent demand for gun control (even in places who have been found to rarely enforce existing firearm laws) authorities are avoiding accountability.
In generations past, these types of chilling statistics would have been met with an immediate change in local law enforcement policies and criminal justice leadership. But now, however, in the post-Trump era of political polarization, mayors and their police executives, district attorneys, and the media establishment seem more concerned with controlling a narrative than making communities safer.
But the fact is, the last two years were the deadliest in the histories of a myriad of cities throughout the United States. While homicides are becoming a daily staple of local news, what is notably absent from the coverage is any sense of accountability by the political leaders charged with keeping us safe.
“Violent crime is rising because we forgot the lessons we learned in the 1990s about controlling violent crime,” says Manhattan Institute Adjunct Fellow Thomas Hogan, who served as a county and federal prosecutor. “For instance, research shows that 5% of offenders are responsible for over 50% of violent crime in any given city. We need to concentrate police and prosecutors on incapacitating this group with strong investigations and lengthy prison sentences. Low-level offenders can still be placed under supervision or diverted, but crime can’t be ignored.”
It is vital that we understand how the criminal justice system works, as most people’s view of “law enforcement” begins with the uniformed police officer or deputy sheriff they see every day and ends with the federal agents they likely only see portrayed in television and movies. In reality, public safety is an ecosystem where law enforcement officers make arrests which are prosecuted by mainly elected district attorneys, who try most cases in state courts before largely elected judges. Like a chain, if a link is weak or missing, the system will simply not work.
Historically, mayors and local legislators hired career law enforcement leaders to run police agencies, and political parties picked experienced prosecutors and former policing executives to run for elected prosecutor and sheriff’s offices. If a notable failure in leadership, mismanagement, and/or corruption were to surface within those agencies, these politicians would then fire the appointed official or weigh in with their bully pulpit to apply pressure on the elected prosecutors, judges, or sheriffs responsible. But this is no longer the case.
Over the last 10 years, a political sea change on the Left brought about an ingenious plan to inject money into high-profile, low cost local law enforcement elections. While this was sold to the public as a “reshaping of a racist criminal justice system,” it was actually a long-term political strategy that is now coming to fruition.
In 2010, the Supreme Court held in the Citizens United decision that the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for political campaigns by corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations. After Citizens United, many of the nation’s political kingmakers injected millions into national presidential and congressional elections. In a counter to the conservative investments by the Koch brothers, Steve Wynn, Shelden Edelstein and others, Democratic mega-donors George and Alexander Soros directed their wealth into the establishment of a nationwide political action committee (PAC) network that became operational in a myriad of state and local attorney general, prosecutor, and judicial races in 2016.
This proved to be a successful strategy, as crime is widely covered by the media, state and local prosecutors receive media exposure that far out values the costs of their elections. Thus, Soros-funded PACs initially channeled more than $3 million into seven local district attorney campaigns in six states, mainly for candidates who had never before served as prosecutors, for a total sum that exceeded the total spent on the 2016 presidential campaign by all but a handful of rival super-donors on the right.
After a sweeping success in 2016, the strategy was expanded nationwide, seeding the next generation of candidates for higher offices. It is estimated that a total of 23 incumbent local prosecutors received financial support from Soros-backed PACs according to a report by Parker Thayer of the Capital Research Center. This is not just Soros’s strategy, either. Big money activist donors from New York and Silicon Valley have donated millions to candidates who have seemingly identical talking points, even if the deadly consequences of their elections are felt thousands of miles from their secured homes. This includes Bill Harris Jr., the one-time head of PayPal and founder of a financial technology company near San Francisco, Silicon Valley physician Jennifer Duda, Senator Bernie Sanders, Patty Quillin, the wife of Netflix’s CEO, Cari Tuna, the wife of Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, Sarah Barton, the wife of Zillow’s founder, singer John Legend, and even celebrity fugitive Edward Snowden.
Since the strategy of outsized funding for inexperienced local law enforcement candidates has taken effect, there has been a sharp rise in violent crime, mostly impacting the black and brown communities these candidates claim to be running to help. This is largely because this political strategy pursues an unlawful backdoor to legislation that seeks to change laws by merely promoting the non-enforcement of them by the prosecutors these donors bought and paid for. “There’s a direct correlation between spiking crime rates – of several percentage points – and the policies which they are enacting,” said Thayer in a comment to The National Desk. This is evident by reviewing the murders and other heinous crimes committed by those left on the streets due to progressive bail policies or undercharging by the prosecutors funded by this movement.
While some Republican donors are starting to realize the mistake they’ve made in neglecting America’s cities and not investing in local elections, the right is still largely absent from most local law enforcement elections.
Therefore, the vital link in the chain of the criminal justice system that prosecutes arrests made by the law enforcement officers who risk their lives on our streets has been broken. Sadly, the result is violent crime rates soaring across the country. Not only are average citizens being victimized more than ever but police officers are being targeted in greater numbers–not just by the violent criminals they encounter – but by the prosecutors who are supposed to be their partners in public safety. According to Michael Letts of In-Vest USA, police officers are facing “On average…more than 60,000 assaults against law enforcement officers each year, resulting in 17,500 injuries and an average of one death every 55 hours or 158 per year.”
As a former law enforcement officer, I can attest to the bravery of those who volunteer to place themselves in harm’s way every day. But once faced with the threat of unlawful indictment and termination from those you work with, the desire to serve is conditioned with the need to protect one’s family and namesake. The result: a rapid decline in the necessary proactive policing strategies that were proven to end the last violent crime epidemic thirty years ago.
Accountability is the Answer
Make no mistake, when outside financial interests politicize something as essential as law enforcement (resulting in thousands of preventable deaths), the system has been corrupted. Therefore, effective checks and balances from apolitical inspectors general, legislators, political leaders, and higher state and federal government offices are necessary to hold the criminal justice system accountable for the public safety of their constituents. This has been proven when looking at places like Miami and Dallas, where homicides drastically decreased in 2021 despite an increase in population.
“The secret to the cities who have managed to control crime can be explained with a simple trinity. A strong mayor, police chief, and district attorney can and will keep violent crime down,” said Hogan. “Cities like Dallas and San Diego are reaping the benefits of having strong leaders in these critical positions. Cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, who are weak at all three positions, are doomed to escalating violence.”
Our federal, state, and local leaders’ lack of use of their bully pulpit on the national rise in violent crime has placed a bright light on their ineptitude and the incestuous relationship they may have with the wealthy donors fueling this dangerous agenda.
The fact that the vast majority of the murder victims across the nation are from black and brown communities should not be overlooked, as it contrasts a harsh reality with the “woke” agendas of the elected prosecutors, mayors, and other politicians elected through these strategies. In making good on their campaign promises, these politicians reject the proven criminal justice policies needed to save lives, resulting in the surge of death and despair that is currently impacting the communities they claim to represent.
Historically, the bully pulpit was a vital tool used by elected officials to uphold their duty of care for their constituents, despite any limitations that may exist due to their scope of office. Through the bully pulpit, a mayor could order their appointed police chief to increase police activity in an area hit hardest by violent crime. In states where the crime patterns are isolated to one or two geographic outliers, the governor or attorney general are essential to assuring the mayor and city council exercise their responsibility to speak out or act against the dangerous policies of an activist district attorney, where they may have drastically reduced charging, pre-trial detention requests, and convictions of the suspects charged by law enforcement agencies.
It is also essential for state legislators to introduce laws that are effective in combating the corruption associated with these elected law enforcement officials. For example, every federal agency is overseen by an office of inspector general, which is independently appointed, and budgeted from the agency it oversees. On the state and local side, however, many jurisdictions have inspectors general appointed by the very agencies they are the watchdog of – and do not have the independent authority recommended by the Association of Inspectors General. As a result, many locally elected officials lack the oversight to ensure any real consequences exist to patterns of corruption that may exist in their office.
Elected leaders who are sponsored by the “woke” movement are effectively protected by a mainstream media that fails to cover the disturbing patterns of alleged corruption fueling a breakdown in the criminal justice system. Consequently, the media have universally labeled the seemingly uncontrolled crime uptick as a “gun violence” epidemic. By using the term “gun violence” instead of the legal definitions of murder, attempted murder, and assault, the accountability for the criminals who committed these violent crimes is semantically shifted to the mere tool they illegally used to victimize others. Further, by labeling this preventable surge in violent crime as “gun violence,” our media fails to hold our state and municipal leaders accountable for their outright refusal to enforce the law which has led to these record murder rates.
If voters were to take state and local elections as seriously as the presidential election, we would ensure that our prosecutors had experience in their field, our judges had the interests of public safety at heart, and our politicians passed laws that ensured consequences for rogue elected officials.
“The citizens who voted in the prosecutors and judges who are enabling criminals are reaping the fruits of their own decision-making,” said Hogan.
“If the citizens want to be safer and restore public order, the citizens need to vote for prosecutors and judges who will follow the law and executives who will appoint and support strong police chiefs.”
And every voter should elect politicians who will support good policing.
A. Benjamin Mannes, MA, CPP, served in both municipal and federal law enforcement, leading to his designation as a nationally recognized subject matter expert in security, public integrity, and criminal justice reform. He has served as a consultant and expert witness and as the Director, Office of Investigations for the American Board of Internal Medicine from 2008-2017.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.