In the days after George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, protesters took to the streets across America. They urged cities to “defund the police”, and politicians listened. Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, called for his department’s budget to be cut by up to $150m. London Breed, San Francisco’s mayor, announced that she would “redirect funding from the sfpd to support the African-American community”. City councils in Oakland and Portland, Oregon, among other cities across America, approved budgets that cut police funding.
That trend has reversed. Portland and Oakland increased police funding to hire more officers. The Los Angeles Police Department’s budget will get a 12% boost. Last month Ms Breed vowed to “take steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement” and “less tolerant of all the bullshit that has destroyed our city”. Why such a stark reversal, and what does it mean for the future of criminal-justice reform?
The first question is easy to answer. Though crime overall did not rise during the pandemic, the type people fear most—murders and shootings—did, and the surge has not abated. Over three decades from 1990, America’s homicide rate fell steeply (see chart). From 2019 to 2020, however, the rate had its highest-ever year-on-year rise, of nearly 30%, followed by a further rise in 2021. More than three-quarters of the murders were committed with guns. In Oakland, 133 people were murdered in 2021, more than in any year since 2006, and almost 600 more were shot but not killed. Portland was one of at least 16 American cities that set all-time homicide records last year.
Read it all (registration).
"No evidence suggests a relationship between the size of a police force and the number of people its officers kill; ample evidence suggests that bigger and better-funded forces tend to reduce violent crime."https://t.co/EtOB9qb5rC
— Dave Morris (@MirabilisDave) January 13, 2022