So we talked earlier this week about the ramifications of the civil unrest and protests against the police last year that resulted in the City of Asheville cutting its public safety budget by $770,000. And how since then, the Asheville Police Chief has announced his force has lost 84 officers since the beginning of 2020, including half of his detectives.
We saw in Raleigh and other cities how looting and burning from riots yielded boarded up businesses as fears of continued mob violence decimated small businesses dependent on urban foot traffic. Even beyond COVID-19 fears, downtown economies were hit hard.
What about other places where the Left’s calls for Defunding the Police have resulted in capitulation by city governments to liberal demands and cuts in police spending?
An eye-opening report on WRAL.com showed that in major cities across the country, homicides were up compared to the same time last year:
- Chicago cut its police budget 3%. Homicides were up in Chicago 22%, according to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
- Los Angeles cut police funding 5%. Homicides were up double digits.
- Portland cut police funding by “less than 4%.” Homicides were up 530%.
- Minneapolis shifted $8 million — less than 5% of the police budget — to programs “focused on community mental health and violence prevention.” Then earlier this year, they “approved $6.4 million to hire new police officers after an unprecedented number of officers retired or went on extended medical leave” after the George Floyd killing and subsequent unrest. Homicides were up 56% according to FOP stats.
The numbers don’t lie. Liberals want to say the Left’s Defund the Police escalation was just a coincidence last year with the increase of murders in big cities. In all fairness, the strains from the COVID-19 pandemic had some role in contributing to the rise in homicides. But we believe reasonable people would agree the Left’s anti-police movement resulted in a culture clash that had something to do with it.
One concern is that at a time when coming out of COVID should be helping businesses get back on their feet, there is enough turmoil still bubbling and gurgling from this anti-establishment, anti-police contingent that it slows the recovery so many small businesses desperately need. Here in North Carolina, we should stay wary of the actions of local city councils in how they budget for public safety and who they hire to lead police departments to know where the wind will blow on these issues in our state. North Carolina businesses need all the help they can get.
NC pundit John Hood wrote about this issue last August – detailing rising homicide stats in North Carolina and its impact on the state. He quoted a Wall Street Journal article that then reported: “Police in many departments said robberies, burglaries and rapes are down so far this year because more people stayed home during Covid-19 lockdowns, leaving fewer prospective victims on the streets, in bars or other public places,” the Journal reported. “Homicides, on the other hand, are up because violent criminals have been emboldened by the sidelining of police, courts, schools, churches and an array of other social institutions by the reckoning with police and the pandemic, say analysts and law-enforcement officials in several cities.”
Hood closed with a strong common sense statement: “There is no shortage of useful ideas for improving the quality of policing. But if we end up reducing the quantity of policing, our cities will be less safe.”
What’s sad is the overall anti-police message the Left is pushing on our country mainly ends up seeming to hurt law-abiding families and small businesses in lower income areas that tend towards higher crime the most and need the protection of police to feel safe. Whether they live in Portland or Asheville, or North Carolina’s other major cities, these folks don’t deserve to be just pawns in the Left’s political propaganda board game. These citizens live the real-life consequences of liberal social experiments every day. We can do better in North Carolina.