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Demosthenes's avatar

Are there any examples of U.S. cities that did "defund the police"?

Asked by Demosthenes (14777points) September 28th, 2022

Why is the narrative that “cities across America defunded the police and crime skyrocketed” so prevalent when, as far as I can see, it’s mostly complete BS?

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18 Answers

kritiper's avatar

None that I am aware of.

Demosthenes's avatar

For “defund the police”, we could also substitute “slash police budgets”. Again, I don’t know for sure. This was inspired by a headline I encountered that claimed SF “slashed police budgets”, but that never actually happened.

hat's avatar

@Demosthenes – Keep in mind that “defund the police” doesn’t just mean “slash police budgets”. It is an attempt to move funding from police departments to build organizations that can handle tasks better than the police (mental health professionals, etc). It can also mean cleaning house and starting anew, but “defund” in general is associated with a larger project. It’s not a call for chaos – it’s quite the opposite.

KNOWITALL's avatar

It’s complex but out of four cities I picked who reduced budgets, all show signs of increasing crime.
Austin, Tx
San Francisco, Ca
Minneapolis, MN

There’s a great article on regarding Minneapolis. I was trying to post links and had to start over, sorry.

hat's avatar

^ Also remember that cities where budgets were not reduced all showed increases in crime. So, you can immediately dismiss this. Also, since a slightly-reduced budget in no way represents the “defund” effort, it is a distraction used by police departments to increase funding.

Police budgets always are increased, and crime fluctuates based on other factors. No matter what the crime rate is, the answer is always: increase funding for the police.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@hat And gun violence has risen dramatically across the board.

In San Fran, violent crimes are down (rape/assaults) while murder and shootings are up.

So yes, it’s complex, I agree.

Zaku's avatar

Because you’re looking at right-wing propaganda? I rarely do, and I’ve never seen that narrative anywhere but from kooky alt-right people online.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Zaku Prove them wrong with a factual answer from a legit source then. If we all take a few cities we should be able to find the truth minus political bias.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

As others have said in this thread, this is a complex issue. The far right likes to paint it as a simple thing of decreasing funding for police, and they ignore the corresponding increases to social helps.

Here in Hawaii, we did not reduce the police budget, but we did raise budgets in mental health where I work. We also passed a law that is intended to divert nonviolent criminals from jail when they are really in need of more social supports. I work on a part of this program.

What we found in the first 6 months of the program was that when the repeat offenders were paired with someone who has successfully come out of the criminal justice system (called a Peer Specialist) and is now living successfully in the community, they are 60% successful at signing those people up for social supports that are intended to give them the resources to live successfully in the community. It’s still too early to tell how successful these people are over time.

We had one homeless woman who was arrested over and over 3 times/week for months. She was continually arrested for petty nonviolent misdemeanors like sleeping on a public sidewalk or begging in Waikiki where it’s a crime, etc. They are very minor offenses. She was given a chance to spend time with a Peer Specialist, and for the first time ever, she agreed to try services. She remained arrest-free for 3 months. That’s a huge improvement for her. As with all these stories, they are very complex. The ultimate goal is to get her housed and off the streets where she won’t be picked up for these minor offenses. That also involves getting her cooperation with mental health help and medication. Again, it’s complex.

Some very good stuff is happening in some places. It’s disinformation to only look at crime statistics.

seawulf575's avatar

A list of cities that cut funding and police positions and the subsequent rapid increase in violent crime

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@seawulf575 a right wing media source good choice ! ! ! !

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 An issue I see with that link is that it lists attitudes toward police and budget cuts as the only possible causes of a rise in crime. But crime rose almost everywhere in the U.S. in 2020 and 2021. There are other possible causes, namely the pandemic completely ruining normal life for an extended period. I’d be interested to see 2020–2021 numbers compared with 2022. Have these cities since “refunded” the police?

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes It is possible that things like the pandemic contributed. But the problem with that is two-fold. First, is the proximity to the defunding. As soon as these cities defunded the police, effectively hobbling them, crime went up. Many of these seemed to be in June of 2020 or after. The shutdowns started in March of 2020 and we didn’t see the drastic uptick in the crimes before that. The second issue involves the mentality that felt that during a stressful time like the covid shutdowns, cutting police services was a good idea. Let’s say the stress of Covid was a cause of increased crime. The response was then to cut police services. ??? When stress is going up, to defund the police is ASKING for more crime.

seawulf575's avatar

@Tropical_Willie Yes, attack the source. Ignore that they cite all sorts of news outlets including Forbes, NBC, WaPo and many, many others. But hey, if you don’t deal with the facts you can keep believing whatever you like with a clear conscience. So attack the source…that’s the safest.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The is source s biassed and so . . . . your answer is biased ! ! !

Zaku's avatar

Looking at the New York City report linked for the article’s claim that “the city experienced a 130 percent increase in shootings in one month”, it’s comparing June 2019 to June 2020, and while yes, there is a 130% difference in shootings between those two months, that one month is a data spike, not a sustained increase, and despite an increase in number of “shooting incidents”, the difference in murders between those two months only increased from 30 to 39, but rapes, robberies, and assaults were down, with a total drop in crime statistics between those two months of 5.5%.

So again, statistics are complicated, and that article was cherry-picking. And, there have been many changes in America other than some cities reducing or adjusting their police budgets.

But as the original question mentioned, the narrative that “cities across America defunded the police and crime skyrocketed” does seem to be mostly BS, or at least hyperbolic inflation of a few cherry-picked statistics used to drive a political talking point.

Entropy's avatar

Minneapolis was going down this road in a literal way, but I haven’t kept up with how completely they went.

A big part of the problem is the separation between ‘catch phrase’ and ‘reality’. Alot of people like to pretend that the folks with the defund signs just mean ‘lets send more social workers instead of cops to things cops currently respond to, but probably shouldn’t’. And that’s a fine enough proposal. There’s some catchy details (alot of domestic issue may not start violent enough to merit a cop…but they can escalate FAST and the couple can and do often team up to turn on the authority figure present. Do you want that to be a cop or a social worker?). But an examination of how we can reduce the load of cops going to certain kinds of calls…that’s entirely reasonable.

But there are alot of people who meant this LITERALLY. Like the cops were going away. That was always unrealistic. In fact, what we need is a better trained and more professional police force. That requires MORE money, not LESS. We need MORE accountability which requires MORE investigators and decision makers doing those roles…which requires MORE money.

I’m all for making the police more accountible. But ‘defund the police’ was always mostly just a juvenile reaction to a very real problem.

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