Defund Police, Watch Crime Return; Offenses in
some cities were rising before the pandemic.
Publication info: Wall Street Journal (Online) ; New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]08 June 2020.
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One feature of our current politics is how quickly bad events trigger a rush to bad policies. So it is that the
response to the killing of George Floyd has sprinted past police reform to “defund the police.” Los Angeles Mayor
Eric Garcetti wants to redirect $150 million from public safety to social programs, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob
Frey was hooted from a protest on the weekend because he admitted he didn’t want to defund the police. City
Council members now pledge to dismantle the force whether he wants to or not.
There’s a case for police reforms, in particular more public transparency about offenses by individual officers.
Union rules negotiated under collective bargaining make it hard to punish offending officers, much as unions do
for bad public school teachers. By all means let’s debate other policies and accountability in using force.
But a political drive to defund police risks a return to the high-crime era of the 1960s and 1970s that damaged so
many American cities. Millennials and minorities in big cities have benefited tremendously from the hard work of
Democratic mayors and police chiefs 20-30 years ago to reduce crime. Yet the progressives who now run most big
cities have pushed relaxed enforcement of “victimless” crimes, and now they want to go further.
Even before the recent riots, crime had been surging this year in many of America’s big cities. In Minneapolis, carjackings were up 45%, homicides 60%, arson 58% and burglaries 28% from January through May 30 compared to
the same period last year. Violent crime overall was 16% higher and property crime 20% higher than recent low
points in 2018.
In New York City, shootings had increased 18%, burglaries 31% and car-jackings 64%. There were about 1,279 more
burglaries, 1,078 more cars stolen and 57 more shooting victims during the first five months of this year than
during the same period last year. Almost all of these were outside of Manhattan’s business district.
In San Francisco, homicides before the riots this year had increased by 19%, burglaries by 23% and arson by 39%
over last. Philadelphia reported a 28% increase in commercial burglaries, 51% in shootings, 22% in auto theft and
28% in retail theft from last year. Residential burglaries and larceny have fallen in many places, but that’s no doubt
because people were at home.
Some of the increase in lawlessness may be due to states and counties releasing criminals from jails to stem
coronavirus infections, but the surge in most places preceded the pandemic releases. In Minneapolis, property and
violent crime had increased by 33% and 29%, respectively, through mid-March when Hennepin County reduced its
jail population by 40%.
It’s impossible to prove cause and effect, but the line between liberal law enforcement policies and the crime spike
is hard to ignore. Take New York City’s new bail law that gives nonviolent offenders a get-out-of-jail-free card. In
January a man who stuck up six banks in two weeks was repeatedly released after each arrest. “I can’t believe they
let me out,” he told a detective.
An arsonist who set a fire in front of the Columbia University Computer Music Center in March had 39 prior arrests
dating to 1987. Democratic lawmakers gave judges more discretion to set cash bail for some offenders who
present a public-safety risk. Yet Chief Terence Monahan said last week that, while police made 650 arrests, almost
all will be released without bail.
“We had some arrests in Brooklyn where they had guns, [and] hopefully [Brooklyn district attorney] Eric Gonzalez
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will keep them in, [but] I can’t guarantee that’ll happen,” Mr. Monahan told the New York Post. “But when it comes
to a burglary [at] a commercial store, which is looting, they’re back out. . . . Because of bail reform, you’re back out
on the street the next day.”
San Francisco’s new District Attorney Chesa Boudin this year eliminated cash bail, stopped prosecuting
“victimless” crimes and suspended the city’s practice of upgrading charges against repeat offenders. Crime in
Minneapolis has been climbing since Mayor Frey entered office in 2018 and started pushing more relaxed law
As police have eased up, violent crime has increased nearly twice as much in the minority third precinct in
Minneapolis as city-wide since 2018. In New York’s Harlem neighborhood, which benefitted enormously from anticrime mayors, murders have soared 160% this year over last while burglaries are up 56% and car-jackings have
more than doubled.
Joe Biden said Monday he opposes defunding the police, and good for him. But law enforcement is mainly a state
and local obligation, and in many cities now the defunders have power. Poor communities will be the victims if
Subject: Law enforcement; Security management; Arson; Pandemics; Collective bargaining;
Mayors; Shootings; Riots; Murders &murder attempts; Violent crime; Burglary; Cities;
Location: New York New York City New York San Francisco California
People: Floyd, George
Publication title: Wall Street Journal (Online); New York, N.Y.
Publication year: 2020
Publication date: Jun 8, 2020
column: Review &Outlook (U.S.)
Publisher: Dow Jones &Company Inc
Place of publication: New York, N.Y.
Country of publication: United States, New York, N.Y.
Publication subject: Business And Economics
Source type: Newspapers
Language of publication: English
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Document type: Opinions, Editorial
ProQuest document ID: 2410525457
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Copyright: Copyright 2020 Dow Jones &Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Last updated: 2020-07-13
Database: U.S. Major Dailies
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Defund Police, Watch Crime Return; Offenses in