By Natalie Cassase
The following are crime spikes in cities that defunded their police.
New York: During the summer of 2020, New York cut $1 billion from its police funds. In June 2020, the city experienced a 130 percent increase in shootings in one month. Killings in August 2021 were up 50 percent.
Chicago: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot claimed to be opposed to defunding the police while quietly cutting 400 police officers positions during 2020. Chicago saw 87 shootings over the 2020 4th of July weekend. The same year, carjackings were up 135 percent.
Los Angeles: Los Angeles cut $150 million from its LAPD budget last July. As of late November 2020, LA recorded 300 homicides. Killings were reportedly up 25 percent since 2019, and shootings were up more than 32 percent. Shootings in South LA rose 742 percent in the first two weeks of January.
Milwaukee: After cutting 60 police positions in 2020, Milwaukee proposed a budget to cut 120 police positions in 2021, cutting a total of $430,000 from the overall budget. Milwaukee experienced a 95 percent increase of local murders in 2020.
Louisville: Rather than directly defunding its police, Louisville voted to use portions of its funds for "recruiting a more diverse force" and "behavioral health professionals" to assist officers. They also boasted of sending millions to "disadvantaged and disinvested" communities. The city saw a 78 percent increase in 2020 homicides.
Seattle: Seattle reduced its police budget by 20 percent and saw a 74 percent homicide increase in 2020.
Minneapolis: Minneapolis cut $8 million from its police budget and saw a 72 percent increase in local murders during the 2020 year.
New Orleans: In 2020, despite seeing a 62 percent increase in 2020 homicides, New Orleans proposed a $16 million budget cut for 2021. It has now experienced an 11 percent increase from 2020 and 79% increase compared to 2019.
Atlanta: In 2020, Atlanta reallocated 50 percent of the corrections budget to social services and community enhancement initiatives and saw a 58 percent increase in 2020 homicides.
Portland: In 2020, Portland cut $15 million and disbanded a gun violence reduction unit, after which Portland saw an 83 percent increase in homicides in 2020. Source
Baltimore: Baltimore cut $22 million from its police budget in 2020 and has experienced a 17 percent increase in homicides compared to the same time last year. Thirty-seven businesses have requested a crackdown on low-level crimes. Baltimore surpassed 300 killings for the seventh consecutive year.
Oakland: Oakland cut its police budget by $14.6 million in 2020. Homicides were up 500 percent, and shootings were up 126 percent in the first two weeks of January 2021.
Washington DC: Washington DC cut its police budget by $15 million, ending 2020 with a 19 percent increase in violent crime compared to 2019. In November, 2021 DC recorded its 200th homicide, a benchmark not reached since 2003.
Philadelphia: Philadelphia cut police funding by $33 million in 2021. Since Jan 2020, 500 people were killed, and more than 2,240 were shot, 40 percent more than the police have ever recorded. In 2021, Philadelphia saw killings at a higher rate than in 2020. By September, killings were up 18% from the same time last year. In November 2021, Philadelphia reached 497 killings,13 percent higher than this time last year.
Hartford: After Hartford cut $1 million from its $4 million budget, it has experienced 20 murders through the first six months of 2021, The city experienced almost as many homicides in half a year as in each of the past three years.
Salt Lake City: Salt Lake City reduced its police budget by $5.3 million in 2020. By December, 2020 violent crime and property crime had increased more than 20 percent.
Austin: Austin cut its police budget by a third in 2020. By December 2020, murder was up 54 percent over the previous year, and aggravated assault was up 13 percent.
Dallas: Dallas cut $7 million from the $24 million overtime budget for police and by November 2020 surpassed 2019’s homicide rate, the highest on record since 1991. The city even experienced seven murders over a period of 24 hours.
Denver: The mayor of Denver claimed to be against defunding the police. However, the city's policies require healthcare workers to respond to domestic mental health calls instead of police. In 2020, the city recorded the highest number of homicides since 1981, a 51 percent increase.
San Francisco: San Francisco's mayor revealed her plan to redirect $120 million into "health workers and workforce training.” San Francisco saw a double increase in shootings in the first half of 2021 compared to the past two years and a rise in aggravated assault.
- In December, San Francisco Mayor, London Breed, launched an emergency police intervention in the downtown Tenderloin neighborhood. The mayor said, “it comes to an end when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement. More aggressive with the changes in our policies and less tolerant of all the bullshit that has destroyed our city.”
San Diego: After San Diego cut $4.3 million from its police overtime funds, the city saw a “disturbing” increase in violent crime with a 129 percent increase in gang-related shootings since Jan 1.
Unpacking the Cause of the Crime Spike
Lack of policing
- Replacing police with unarmed civilians such as social workers.
- Reducing or reallocating funds affects police activity. The Law Enforcement legal Defense Fund found that police activity such as arrests, stops, and searches declined by 48 percent since last June. In New York, for example, there were 40,000 fewer arrests made by July 2020. Consequently, during June of that year, murder was up 30 percent; burglaries were up 118 percent.; thefts were up 51 percent.
- Police voluntarily leaving the force. In 2020, the NYPD saw a 75 percent increase in quitting or retirement. After George Floyd’s death in May 2020, close to 200 officers had left the Minneapolis police force by May 2021.
Lowered morale and hesitancy to police
- The continuous narrative is that it is racist to enforce laws, particularly lower-level offenses.
- Hostile rhetoric against police.
- A lack of trust between police and prosecutors. Police go through the process of arresting criminals for them to be released and shortly re-offend.
Change in societal standards
- The mass media continually downplayed and politicized the violence that took place during the summer of 2021. This sent a message of tolerance for violence, justification of vandalism, and explicit messages that law and order were not a societal priority.