Refund The Police? Major Cities Are Backtracking On Police Cuts After Explosion Of Violent Crime
People walk past a mural showing the face of George Floyd, an unarmed handcuffed black man who died after a white policeman knelt on his neck during an arrest in the US, painted on a section of Israel's controversial separation barrier in the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on March 31, 2021. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

A year after the death of George Floyd, elected officials of major cities are walking back commitments to cut police funding amid spiking crime rates.

Elected leaders in places such a Minneapolis, New York City, and Los Angeles are now pushing to increase funding to police departments after months of budget cuts and low morale have gutted law enforcement ranks. At the same time, major cities across the U.S. are suffering spikes in violent crime.

“The violence needs to stop, its unacceptable. People deserve to feel safe in their neighborhood, they deserve to be able to send their kids out to the sidewalk to play and to recreate without bullets flying by. That’s unacceptable. We should be holding these perpetrators accountable,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat, said at a May 7 news conference addressing a spate of violence that ripped through the city.

Frey put much of the blame of rising crime rates on activists’ calls to defund the police in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Floyd’s death last year kicked off massive riots and calls to redirect police funding toward social programs. Violent crime surged 21% in Minneapolis last year, and the trend is threatening to continue through 2021.

“When you make big, overarching statements that we’re going to defund or abolish and dismantle the police department and get rid of all the officers, there’s an impact to that,” Frey said. At a news conference earlier this week, Frey said he is requesting federal and state help to curb crime in his city, citing Minneapolis’ dearth of cops.

In Los Angeles, the spike in crime has been more pronounced. Last year, violent crime in the city rose 36% as elected officials stripped the local police department of $150 million, roughly 8% of the department’s funding. The number of murders across the city surged to a decade-high of 350.

Despite Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti’s and the L.A. city council’s earlier commitment to cut back police funding, city leaders reversed course last week. The city council approved additional funding for the police department to hire 250 officers, essentially restoring the cuts that the city council approved last year, according to The New York Times.

In New York City, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this month that the city is building a new police precinct in Southeast Queens to combat rising crime. The announcement of additional law enforcement comes after de Blasio pledged to cut $1 billion from the New York City Police Department’s budget. Very little of the promised cuts have actually materialized as de Blasio and the city council argue over what spending to cut amid the city’s crime wave, according to Politico.

From January to April, New York City experienced a more than 50% jump in the number of shootings over the same time last year. The spike comes after last year when shootings jumped 97% and the murders across the city increased 45% in 2019.

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