I know defunding the police is a sensitive issue. I also believe that my criminal justice friends and acquaintances will think I have lost my ever-loving mind. I just hope they read past the title.
Defunding the police “seems” to be a national movement as a result of the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. I use the word “seems” because when one watches the national news, it “seems” that this movement is a nationwide phenomenon. The Guardian reports that amid the Black Lives Matter movement, “a dozen local governments have moved to reduce their police budgets by more than $1.4 billion, marking a significant shift in American politics”. Multiple media outlets have referenced Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta and Washington D.C. as cities that are defunding their police.
NPR reports the Chicago PD investigated 750 homicides in 2020, an increase of more that 50% over 2019. Los Angeles had a 30% increase in homicides and New York City had a nearly 40% increase. The National Police Support Fund reports Minneapolis had a 60% increase in homicides in 2020. Atlanta experienced 157 homicides, the highest number in 20 years. Now, is this increase related to Covid-19? Possibly. Is it coincidental that the homicide rates have increased in cities that have defunded the police? Maybe.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that nearly 50% of the federal prison population has been incarcerated for a drug related offense. Statistics on state incarceration rates vary a little. The Prison Policy Initiative published data that suggests that 191,000 of the 1.3 million state prison inmates are there for drug convictions. The Initiative also suggests that 713,000 state prison inmates are there for violent crimes. What this data does not differentiate is how many of these violent crime convictions were the result of drug-related activity.
I had the privilege of attending several presentations by Dr. Odel Owens when he was the medical examiner for Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Ohio. Dr. Owens investigated ALL deaths in Hamilton County. The conclusion Dr. Owens presented to the audience was that if a person was not involved in the drug trade they would not be murdered in Hamilton Count. This is a very telling statement.
The FBI (2018) published data that reflects there were 3,315 White victims of murder perpetrated by 2,677 White offenders. In other words, 81% of these murders were White on White. This same report reflects there were 2,925 Black victims of murder perpetrated by 2,600 Black offenders. In other words, 89% of these murders were Black on Black.
Scientific American (2018) and The Guardian (2017) published articles linking murders to socioeconomic status. Both articles concluded that when inequality, particularly income inequality, “is high and strips large numbers of men of the usual markers of status- like a good job and the ability to support a family- matters of respect and disrespect loom disproportionately.” These findings seem to be confirmed every night on your local news. When the families of murder suspects are interviewed, a consistent theme is the lack of respect.
Protection 1 (2015) concluded that, “violent metro areas share similar economic hardships. In addition to murder rates that are five to 13 times the national average, these cities have lower incomes, higher poverty rates, and higher unemployment rates than the rest of the country.” This also suggests that these areas have high school drop-out rates and very low employability rates.
The knee jerk response from the policing community and others is that defunding the police will result in a surge in violent crimes. While the murder rates have increased very recently, other violent crimes and non-violent crimes have been decreasing. There is not a national movement to defund the police. This is a figment of the news media pundits’ collective imaginations. Cities, counties and states are still hiring officers. Major cities have had and are continuing to have a very difficult time attracting quality police recruits. It should be no surprise that the “defund the police” cities are not only having a difficult time retaining officers, but also a difficult time recruiting officers, a phenomenon which has increased exponentially since the “defund the police” movement began.
So, for my conspiracy theory readers, here is why we should actively support the “defund the police” movements in these cities. Murders in these cities are increasing. The people getting killed and those doing the killing are low-socioeconomic-status individuals– generally below the poverty line– are uneducated, and either actively or peripherally involved with drugs. They collect welfare, unemployment, food stamps, government housing subsidies, free medical care and are essentially a drain on the public coffers. When these cities continue to defund the police, the police presence in these areas will be minimized, resulting in a continued increase in murders. Stupid people will be killing stupid people, thus increasing our collective IQ’s. Poor people will be killing poor people, thus reducing the drain on the taxpayer-funded public coffers. Addicts will be killing addicts, thus reducing the number of drug traffickers and drug abuses. OD’s will not be resuscitated by police officers not there.
Charles Darwin defined natural selection as the “principle by which each slight variation [of a trait], if useful, is preserved.” By defunding the police, these cities are ensuring the non-preservation of this segment of society that is not useful.