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Crime Problems and Solutions

Crime Statistics in Cities in 2020 & 2021


According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, crime statistics among the nation’s 50 largest cities were up 24% to 3,612 as of August 2020. Shootings and gun violence also rose.

Some cities with long running crime problems saw their numbers rise in 2020, including Philadelphia, Detroit, Memphis, Tenn and Chicago, which was the worst-hit of all of them. Even less violent places have been struck as well, such as Omaha, Neb., and Phoenix.

Austin is another safe city that has seen an increase in crime in 2020. In 2019, Austin ranked in the top 10 safest cities in the U.S. However, it leads the nation in percentage increase of total homicides in 2020 compared to 2019. The city saw a 64.29% increase in crime in 2020.

In New York, the city’s rise in homicide was the worst in Brooklyn – where shootings have broken out at large gatherings such as barbecues in public parks and outdoor dice games. According to the United States Census Bureau, Kings County (Brooklyn Borough) is 49.8% White, 33.8% Black and 18.9% Hispanic.

Source: Wall Street Journal

According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, data from 66 police departments in the country shows that homicides in American cities rose by 33% throughout the whole year of 2020 compared to 2019. Aggravated assaults also increased considerably – from 224,951 in 2019 to 257,885 in 2020.

Source: Major Cities Chiefs Association

New Orleans-based crime analyst Jeff Asher of Statista has analyzed the number of murders in 57 major American cities – and he found that the number of offenses grew in 51 cities. Most of these cities collected data from the beginning of 2020 all the way through November or December of 2020.

Asher found that growth in violent crime varied by city. For instance, Seattle saw a 74% spike in homicides between 2019 and 2020 while Chicago and Boston saw their offenses grow 55.5% and 54% respectively. By the same token, New York’s homicide count went up nearly 40% and cities such as Washington D.C and Las Vegas also saw growth in murder offences.

Source: Jeff Asher

Source: Jeff Asher

A new report by the Council on Criminal Justice shows a sharp rise in homicides in U.S cities during the calendar year 2020. The study examines monthly crime rates, violent, property, drug crime’s and more. The largest city in the sample is New York, with 8.42 million residents and the smallest was Norfolk, Virginia with 245,000 residents. Not all cities reported monthly data for each crime. There are 34 cities in the sample.

The report found that homicides rose sharply in 2020, and rates of aggravated assaults increased as well. It was also found that homicide rates were 30% higher than in 2019. This is a historic increase representing 1,268 more deaths in the sample of 34 cities than the year before. Homicide rates in 2020 exceeded previous rates throughout the entire year.

In January and February, the average city homicide rate increased by 32.5% compared the same period in 2019. From March through May, the rate was 19.4% higher. June through August, the homicide rate was 37.2% higher. September through December, the rate was 28.2% higher.

From the beginning of the pandemic emergency in March through the end of the year, the average city homicide rate increased by 28.6% compared with the same period in 2019. Across the entire year of 2020, the homicide rate was 29.6% higher in 2020 than the year before. This translates to an additional 1,268 homicides across the 34-city sample.

Source: Council on Criminal Justice

In the 19 cities in which data was available, aggregated assaults are on the rise. From the beginning of the pandemic emergency in March through the end of the year, the average city aggravated assault rate increased by 7.0% compared with the same period in 2019. Across the entire year of 2020, the rate was 6.4% higher than the year before, representing an additional 6,741 aggravated assaults.

Source: Council on Criminal Justice

Gun assault’s also saw a sharp increase in 2020. The monthly gun assault rate in the 15 cities with available data shows us concerning trends.

In January and February, the average city gun assault rate increased by 12.7% over the same period in 2019. From March through May, the rate was -0.8% lower. For June through August, the gun assault rate was 12.9% higher. For September through December, the rate was 9.5% higher.

Source: Council on Criminal Justice

A recent report by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice found that homicides in U.S cities rose sharply in 2020, and rates of aggravated assaults and gun assaults increased as well. Homicide rates were 30% higher than in 2019. This is a historic increase representing 1,268 more deaths in the sample of 34 cities than the year before.

Data from the Police Executive Research Forum (with support from the Major Cities Chiefs Association) reveals a spike in some violent crimes in 2020. The report revealed a sharp increase in homicides and a substantial rise in aggravated assaults. As a matter of fact, 84% of the major American cities in the report had an increase in homicides in 2020 and 77% of the cities reported an increase in aggravated assaults compared to 2019.

Homicide increases were especially prevalent in larger cities. It has been found that 56 of the 67 major cities recorded a rise in homicides in 2020 compared to 2019. Several major cities reported increases of greater than 50%.

Milwaukee saw a 110% increase in homicides, while Minneapolis saw an 85% uptick. Louisville Metro saw a 79% increase, Fort Worth (66%), Memphis (58%), Prince George’s County, MD, (58%), Boston (52%) and Chicago (51%).

Among the 67 major cities on the list, 77% reported an increase in aggravated assaults. Major city agencies reporting sharp rises in aggravated assaults include Kansas City, KS (75%), DeKalb County, GA (72%), Toledo, OH (55%), Scottsdale, AZ (53%), Fort Worth, TX, (39%), Aurora, CO, (36%), Louisville Metro, (36%) and Tampa (35%).

According to NYPD data, overall index crime in New York City rose 30.4% in April 2021 compared with April 2020, driven by a 66% increase in grand larceny (2,659 v. 1,601) and a 35.6% increase in felony assault (1,630 v. 1,202). Robbery saw a 28.6% increase compared to April 2020 (885 v. 688).

A similar story seems to be unfolding in Washington, D.C. The Economist’s Intelligence Unit placed Washington, D.C as the safest city in the U.S and the 23rd in the world in terms of personal security in its 2019 Safe Cities Index. Despite this, homicides in Washington, D.C saw a 16-year-high in 2020 and this trend is already on track to accelerate in 2021.

The Star Tribune found that violent crimes soared in Minneapolis in 2020. In 2020, violent crimes soared by 21% – and the city recorded 5,422 violent crime incidents, including homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, according to preliminary year-end Minneapolis police statistics collected by the Tribune. This is a notable and dramatic jump over the previous five years, which averaged roughly 4,496 such crimes.

More affluent neighborhoods sometimes went weeks without a violent incident. By contrast, on the North Side, the Fifth Ward saw violent crime climb 36% over the five-year average, with homicides, robberies and aggravated assaults like shootings and stabbings going up.

The neighboring Fourth Ward to the north saw similar increases. Both these wards have a robust African American population. As a matter of fact, many of the city's Black residents are concentrated in the poorer neighborhoods on the North Side, where decades of racist land-use planning and overly aggressive policing have yielded crime.

According to The Trace, a team of journalists dedicated to reporting on gun violence, children below the age of 18 were shot and killed in greater numbers in 2020.

In New York City, a wave of child shootings pushed the city’s homicide numbers above 400 for the first time since 2012.

Source: The Trace

According to the Guardian, a surge in daily gun violence contributed to an estimated 4,000 additional murders throughout 2020. Experts warn 2020 will probably be the worst single-year increase in murders on record.

Reporting also shows that the number of people murdered in everyday violence last year surged in cities large and small – and early estimates suggest the US may have seen at least 4,000 more murders last year than in 2019, and potentially as many as 5,000 more, according to projections based on FBI data.

The Gun Violence Archive monitors shootings in real time using media reports, and it recorded nearly 4,000 more-gun homicides in 2020 compared with 2019, according to founder Mark Bryant.

The Guardian notes that many of the homicides recorded in 2020 are concentrated in communities of color that have historically seen the worst burden of daily gun violence, including in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Chicago and Oakland.

According to 3 CBS Philly, Philadelphia leaders are continuing to sound alarm on growing trend of gun violence in city. In terms of gun violence, 2020 was the deadliest year Philadelphia has seen in decades. As of March 20, 2021, the city is projected to surpass that number if homicides continue at the current rate.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, nearly 500 people were killed and 2,200 were shot in 2020 – and the only time more people were killed in the city was in 1990. It is noted that most victims were young, Black men, many from impoverished neighborhoods lacking recourses and long effected by gun violence.

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

According to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis homicide rate in 2020 was the highest in 50 years – with 262 killings. The homicide rate in the city hit 87 murders per 100,000 residents in 2020, the highest on record since 1970.

The figure exceeds the previous top rate of 69 set in 1993, when the growing number of killings made headlines in local and national news. That year registered the most total homicides in the city – at 267 – but St. Louis has about 87,000 fewer residents now.

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch

The spike in violent crime in the region tracks closely with the end of the first round of stay-at-home orders from the pandemic – and that’s not just in St. Louis. As in past year, violence was intensely concentrated in the St. Louis region in 2020 – and roughly 90% of city homicide victims were Black, according to St. Louis police data.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, after 3 years of progress, Chicago’s murder tally skyrocketed in 2020. It has been noted that the uptick has had ripple effects across the city – as 20 of the CPD’s 22 police districts recorded more murders.

According to a database maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times, as of Dec. 31, the city recorded 774 murders in 2020, an increase of more than 50% from the 506 murders in 2019. The number of overall shooting incidents also skyrocketed – rising from 2,210 in 2019 to 3,237 as of Dec. 27, 2020.

The Chicago Sun Times also found that 2020 yielded the single deadliest day for murders in Chicago’s modern history. May 31, 2020, was the day that the city was penetrated by protesters and looters triggered by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. That day, Chicago recorded a staggering 18 murders in 24 hours.

Nearly, a quarter of all Chicago crime in 2020 happened in three West Side districts: Harrison, Ogden and Austin. According to the Chicago Sun Times, Harrison district has seen more people killed this year than in all of Minneapolis.

Through mid-November 2020, nearly 90 people have been killed so far this year in the Harrison District – about 15 more than in all of Minneapolis. Harrison District serves Garfield Park, which is primarily African American.

According to the Washington Post, crime rose unevenly when stay at home orders lifted, and data shows the racial disparities is the widest in years.

Data collected as of Sep. 5, 2020, illustrates to us that while crime remained stable in White-majority neighborhoods, it peaked in Black-majority neighborhoods during the summer months after stay-at-home orders were lifted around mid-May.

Source: The Washington Post

The Washington Post analysis found that in majority Black neighborhoods, the rate of violence remained relatively steady while stay-at-home were in effect but rose dramatically after orders were lifted around mid-May, peaking at 133 crimes per 100,000 residents in July, the highest level in the past three years.

This year, the increase in crime in Black neighborhoods has been the most dramatic, peaking higher than in 2018 and 2019 by about 10 and 8 percent respectively.

The analysis examined more than 800,000 crimes in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia and Seattle. The Post analyzed data from police departments, then merged geocoded reports with neighborhood income and demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The crimes analyzed included homicide, sexual assault and rape, robbery, aggravated assault, arson, burglary, theft, auto theft and thefts from vehicles.

The analysis shows crime rates dropped in March after stay-at-home orders were imposed to combat the pandemic. Rates flattened in April, but when orders began to lift in May, violent crime spiked in majority-Black neighborhoods, surging past levels in 2018 and 2019.

According to The Trace, mass shootings soared in 2020, and Black neighborhoods got hit the hardest.

The reporting notes that the mass shootings have disproportionately occurred in predominantly Black neighborhoods – and that nearly 50% of the shooting analyzed took place in majority-Black census tracts.

In Chicago, 31 out of 36 shootings with four or more victims happened in majority-Black census tracts. In Detroit and Milwaukee, all five mass shootings occurred in majority-Black neighborhoods.

Source: The Trace

According to Oakland Police Department data, Oakland is witnessing a 314% increase in homicides and a 113% increase in firearms assaults – if you compare March 2020 with March 2021.

Data from 2021 shows us that crime in U.S cities is only getting worse. According to the Economist, as of May 16th, murders were up by 59% in Atlanta compared with the same period in 2020 – and rapes, aggravated assaults and thefts from and of cars are also well above levels in 2020.

2020 was already Atlanta’s deadliest year in decades for homicides, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Why is crime on the rise?

According to The Economist, a mixture of pandemic-related fatigue for both civilians and police, rising gun sales and hesitation among police after the protests inspired by George Floyd’s death may have yielded more crime in U.S cities in 2020 and well into 2021.

Reporting by the New York Times found that gun buying spiked during the pandemic. The preliminary research data collected suggests that about a fifth of all Americans who bought guns last year were first-time gun owners. This may have nourished the uptick in crime.

According to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, the coronavirus may have increased the commission of homicides in multiple ways.

The pandemic has disproportionally affected vulnerable populations, placing at-risk individuals under additional physical, mental, emotional, and financial stress.

The pandemic has strained the institutions charged with responding to violent offenses. For instance, police agencies, courts, hospitals, emergency medical services, and community-based groups that productively engage at-risk individuals.

Evidence-informed violence reduction efforts depend heavily on proactive outreach to at-risk people and places – and such outreach has been largely curtailed by COVID-19.

The strain on at-risk individuals and key institutions – aggravated further by the lack of outreach to such individuals, have yielded elevated homicide rates in 2020.

A cross sectional analysis in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found paradoxical trends of increased gun related violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The analysis dissected data from the heavily populated cities of NY, Chicago and Baltimore. It offers potential explanations for the increase in crime during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include increased unemployment, financial stress and increased consumption of alcohol.

A recent report from the US Department of Labor, shows a surge in the number of unemployment claims during the pandemic. Companies were forced to lay off workers in order to circumvent bankruptcy – and restaurants and entertainment remained closed.

This yielded poor outcomes for the cities in question. Maryland received 298,610 unemployment claims which represents 9.1% of the state's labor force since March 14, New York State 1,186,994 unemployment claims (12.4% of its' labor force), and Illinois 634,625 unemployment claims (9.9% of its' labor force).

It is possible that the chances of becoming involved in a gun related incident correlates with the amount of time spent outside of the workforce.

Another plausible explanation is that when people with a low socioeconomic status become unemployed and experience tremendous financial stress, they may resort to robbery for income, and this reflected in the increased robbery rates in NY (22.4%) and Chicago (10%) compared to 2019.

Another plausible explanation for the increase in gun violence is the increased sale and consumption of alcohol during the pandemic. The relevant literature on the subject suggests that alcohol increases risk-taking behavior and probability of being in an altercation and committing violent crimes.

The increased sale and consumption of alcohol during the pandemic promoted the World Health Organization to issue a statement advocating for governments to restrict access to alcohol.

This illustrates to use that the increased sale and consumption of alcohol and the higher rates of unemployment may have created a deadly combination that contributes significantly to increased rates of firearm violence.

During the first three months of 2020, the FBI conducted 9,245,857 background checks for firearms purchases, representing a 34.7% increase during this time period in 2019. A larger number of guns may increase the chance of shootings.

A recent research paper from Carnegie Mellon University found significant increases in homicides through all three pandemic periods (lockdown, summer protests, and end of the year).

The paper used data from 29 of the largest 70 cities in the U.S. It also found significant increases in auto theft during the final half of 2020, which correlates with the summer protest period and the end of year period. These increases are also significant compared to the 2020 pre-pandemic period.

There are speculations presented in the paper for these unusual trends. The increase in auto thefts may have manifested as the result of a combination of more vehicles sitting idle on the streets and fewer people outside, including police, making it easier to steal vehicles.

More time sheltering at home coupled with increased drug and alcohol intake might have resulted in more conflicts that have ended in domestic homicides.

A study exploring the impact of social distancing during COVID-19 on crime in Los Angeles and Indianapolis found robust patterns emerging in both cities. For instance, a substantial decrease in traffic stops and a substantial increase in domestic violence calls-for-service were present in both cities.

The paper also found officer safety is at risk during the pandemic in these cities. Incidents of domestic violence present one of the riskiest incidents for officer injury.

A report co-authored by the Council of Criminal Justice and the University of Missouri – St. Louis, hypothesizes how the COVID-19 pandemic creates an atmosphere for crime to flourish.

Amidst the pandemic, the scheduled ending of federal relief for unemployed workers may have led some to take advantage of the increased criminal opportunities out of desperation and to supplement depleted incomes.

The pandemic has exhausted public resources, including but not limited to police and hospitals, institutions that are crucial for responding to serious violent crime. The economic downturn is likely to negatively impact the budgets of these same organizations for the foreseeable future, which may yield more crime.

The literature shows that effective violence reduction depends on proactive outreach to high-risk people and places, and such outreach may have been curtailed with the ongoing risk of infection during the pandemic.

The literature shows a rise in homicides in 2015 and 2016, which coincides with social unrest over police brutality. The same may have happened in the wake of the widespread unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The paper by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice notes that a precipitous rise in homicides coincided with the emergence of mass protests after George Floyd was killed in late May by a police officer in Minneapolis. In June through August 2020, the homicide rate was 37% higher than the previous year and higher than during any other period in 2020.

It is also noted that homicides in large cities rose in 2015 and 2016 by nearly 22% - the largest two-year increase in 25 years when there was social unrest over policy brutality.

A research paper by Paul G. Cassell of the University of Utah attempts to explain the recent homicide spikes in U.S cities. It specifically examines the “Minneapolis effect” and the decline of proactive policing.

The paper attempts to dissect why so many cities have seen extraordinary increases in murder during the summer of 2020. A close analysis of the emerging crime patterns suggests that American cities may be witnessing significant declines in some forms of policing. This may very be producing homicide spikes.

Crime rates are increasing in terms of homicides and shootings – which are crime categories that are particularly responsive to reductions in proactive policing.

The data also illustrates to us that the spikes occurred in late May 2020, which corresponds with the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis and subsequent anti-police protests. These protests may have led to declines in law enforcement.

The thesis of the article suggests that the recent spikes in homicides have been caused by a “Minneapolis Effect,” similar to the earlier “Ferguson Effect.” Law enforcement agencies have been forced to divert resources from normal policing to patrolling demonstrations.

Even as anti-police protests have largely abated, police officers have scaled back on proactive or officer-initiated law enforcement – and this has correlated with the rise in crime in U.S cities.

This has influenced street stops and other forms of policing designed to prevent firearms crimes – and this most likely has created an atmosphere for homicides and shootings to increase.

The article suggests that quantitative data and qualitative evidence strongly indicates that in the wake of anti-police protests following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, police officers are being re-deployed from anti-gun efforts and are retreating from proactive law enforcement tactics – which may yield negative outcomes for public safety.

The article attempts to quantify the size of the so-called Minneapolis Effect, and it estimates that about 710 more homicides and 2,800 more shootings resulted because of reduced policing in June and July alone.

The article notes that the victims of these crimes are disproportionately Black and Brown, often living in disadvantaged and low-income neighborhoods.

A paper out of California State University, Bakersfield explores how the death of George Floyd sparked a national debate on police department reform. It is noted in the paper that the Minneapolis Police Department has been facing backlash for police related deaths over the years which includes Jamar Clark, Justine Damond, and George Floyd. This has yielded numerous protests in the city in 2020.

The city has been facing an increase in crime such as robberies, murder, rape, and property crime. The city has also faced calls for disbanding, defunding and other demands for action and reform on its police department.

The paper notes that the Minneapolis city council has recently agreed to provide 6.4 million for MPD as the department has gone down from 817 officers to 638 officers. This may very well have nourished crime in the city.

It is noted that PTSD due to the protests that have occurred in Minneapolis is one reason why officers are retiring from the MPD. Many residents in Minneapolis have complained to the city council about this problem as they noticed response times have decreased and crime has increased in 2020. The new funding is to allow the department to hire more police officers and to treat the officers on medical leave.

The paper recommends that the city implements public policy that will reform the police department, which may entail improving police conduct and gain back public trust and support in order to quell crime.

The analysis recommends that the City of Minneapolis include new policy reforms to ensure police accountability and public safety, promote diversity and inclusion to have the new department match the demographics of Minneapolis.

The analysis also recommends that the city does not cut funding and have it consistent or increase, if necessary, in order to properly equip the new department and equipment and to properly train the officers in de-escalation techniques.

A study in the Journal of Criminal Justice examines the rise of shootings in the age of COVID-19. The study examined the impact of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order on gun violence in Buffalo, New York: fatal shootings, all non-fatal shootings, non-fatal shootings with injury, and non-fatal shootings without injury. It also estimated its impact on gang and non-gang related shootings.

It was found that the pandemic has changed the volume of gun violence possibly due to increased strain and/or changed activities. The paper concludes by recommending that criminal justice agencies focus more attention and recourses on gun violence resulting from a sense of strain and fear among individuals during the pandemic.

Recommendations for the Biden Administration

The Biden administration should enact serious police reforms. Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that there is broad support for several police reforms — as 71% of the American people strongly support requiring police to be trained in nonviolent alternatives to deadly force.

62% strongly favor creating a federal government database to track officers accused of misconduct — and 74% either somewhat favor or strongly favor requiring officers to live in the places they police.

President Biden should draft federal legislation enacting these reforms. This will ultimately yield accountability and build trust between police and citizens, which will bring about lower crime rates.

A prison policy initiative briefing proposes winnable criminal justice reforms. Mr. Biden should draft legislation and work with states on reclassifying criminal offenses and turning misdemeanor charges that don’t threaten public safety into non-jailable infractions.

Implementing these reforms will ensure that we are only putting behind bars people who need to be there. This will ensure that cops are focused on dealing with serious crimes that threaten the public.

If incarceration did remedy crime, America would be much safer than it is now. A study from Villanova University analyzing the effects of imprisonment on crime from 1971-1998 found that imprisonment rates are not significantly related to crime in most states. Scholars have also noted that incarceration has been a revolving door for many.

Mr. Biden should craft federal legislation and work with the states to ensure that ex-offenders obtain skills while in prison that will help them gain work upon release. This will yield safer cities and it will help correct previous inequalities.

Drafting federal legislation and working with states to help people successfully navigate the criminal justice system will bring about positive outcomes. The administration should work with states to immediately set up pilot projects to test promising programs that facilitate successful navigation of the criminal justice system.

Things like community-based pretrial services often increase court compliance while also reducing recidivism. These public policy remedies will most certainly yield better outcomes.

Drafting legislation that counters public policy that criminalizes poverty or that creates financial incentives for unnecessarily punitive policies will most certainly help. The Biden administration should pass federal legislation and work with the states in order to ensure that judges are holding indigency hearings before imposing and enforcing unaffordable fees. The administration should also work with the states to ban for-profit probation and publish court-level data on probation fees.

Mr. Biden and his cabinet should help fund and implement alternative responses for calls involving people with disabilities or experiencing mental health crises. People with disabilities and mental illnesses represent a disproportionate number of people arrested and jailed every year, but police and jail staff do not have the specific, in-depth training to treat mental illness or to accommodate those with other disabilities. As a result of this, at least 25% of people killed by police have a serious mental illness and suicide is the leading cause of death in local jails.

The Biden administration should also study and promote new programs that help de-escalate situations between citizens and cops. According to the Brookings Institute, multiple instances have occurred of police injuring or killing individuals with mental illness.

This has highlighted the argument that police officers are often not the right first responders in many such situations — especially given the procedures that officers typically are expected to follow when there is an apparent risk to public safety.

There are now a growing number of jurisdictions all over the country that have adopted a team approach to these incidents, in which mental health professionals can de-escalate a situation, with trained police protection in support.

These promising programs need to be studied for their effectiveness and design. They suggest that the role of the police needs to be modified significantly when mental illness may be involved in an emergency call.

Mr. Biden should fund institutions and programs that are known to suppress crime. In the American Jobs Plan, Mr. Biden should invest heavily in America’s youth. A wealth of evidence exists that anti-violence nonprofits and summer jobs for young people can help quell crime.

Research from the Brennan Center for Justice found that in a city of 100,000, each new nonprofit community organization brought about a 1.2% drop in the homicide rate, a 1% reduction in the violent crime rate, and a 0.7% reduction in the property crime rate.

An evaluation of the Boston summer youth employment program by the Brookings Institute found that these programs are effective in reducing crime and incarceration among participants. Investments in these programs will yield fruitful outcomes now and for generations to come.

Investments in education are crucial. This will reduce crime by improving future labor market opportunities and it will alter the propensity of children to engage in risky behaviors. The more investments the Biden administration makes in education, the better.

Mr. Biden should be pragmatic and work in a bipartisan manner when enacting these reforms. Building coalitions will always yield fruitful public policy outcomes. Working with a national campaign like Right on Crime, a part of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, will help federal reforms get passed and will attract popular support for Mr. Biden’s agenda.

Mr. Biden should continue to push for gun reform to quell crime and mass shootings. He should make historic investments in inner city gun violence prevention efforts. This will positively impact Black and Brown communities.

According to the Marshall Project, a nonprofit journalistic organization, the most dangerous neighborhoods have the most inexperienced cops. Chicago’s 11th district around Garfield Park illustrates this phenomenon perfectly.

Putting younger and more inexperienced officers in high crime neighborhoods often yields negative outcomes. The Biden administration should study this phenomenon carefully and make sure that experienced cops patrol high crime neighborhoods.

Mr. Biden must push mayors to balance public safety with criminal justice considerations in order to yield a balanced equilibrium.

The Biden administration should accelerate proven programs, advance technology and data analytics, provide officers with training and support, and launch innovation funds to help to make crime ridden neighborhoods more desirable.

The Biden administration should try to create programs that will reach youth most at risk of violence, especially men between the age of 18 and 25.

Mr. Biden and his administration should work to dismantle policies that have yielded strategic disinvestment and racial segregation in Black neighborhoods ¬– and this will bring about less crime.

Mr. Biden and his administration should attempt to demilitarize the police. As a matter of fact, the relevant literature shows that militarization fails to enhance police safety or reduce crime but may end up harming police reputation.

Militarized police units are more often deployed in communities with large shares of African American residents. Nationwide panel data on police militarization illustrates to us that militarization fails to reduce crime.

The Dangers of Defund the Police

According to the Guardian, Cities like Austin, Texas, Los Angeles and Oakland have launched campaigns to “reimagine public safety”. However, they are struggling with increases in gun violence.

According to a Police Executive Research Forum survey from the summer of 2020, nearly half of 258 police agencies said their budgets had been cut or were likely to be cut – and these cuts hit purchases of new police equipment the hardest, followed by training, hiring new officers and overtime spending. These finding may have a direct correlation with rising crime rates.

According to the Wall Street Journal as of late May 2021, cities have reversed defunding the police amid rising crime. For instance, in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would reinstate $92 million for a new precinct after scrapping the project last summer. The mayor of Baltimore, who led efforts as a city councilman to cut the police budget by $22 million last year, recently proposed a $27 million increase.

In 2020, President Biden rejected the “defund the police” slogan on the campaign, as did some Democratic mayors all over the country. One year after the movement to defund the police began to upend municipal budgets, many American cities are now restoring money to police departments and even proposing to spend more.

Data and analysis show us that the slogan is unpopular and may hurt Democrats in the 2022 midterms.

There is serious debate about whether the slogan “defund the police” damaged Democrats electoral prospects in 2020. Jim Clyburn, one of the most influential Democrats in the House of Representatives, believes that the phrase “defund the police”, popularized during this summer’s uprising against racial injustice, hurt candidates such as Jaime Harrison, who lost his bid to unseat Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham in a Senate election in Clyburn’s home state.

The Biden Administration should resist calls to defund the police. According to a Gallup poll from August 2020, 61% of Black Americans want police presence to remain the same and 20% say they would like police to spend more time in their area. Meanwhile, 67% of all U.S. adults prefer the status quo, including 71% of white Americans.

Data from Pew Research Center suggests similar findings — with 58% of Black Americans and 76% of Hispanic respondents saying that they do not want to see a decrease in spending for police in their area.

One analysis by Matthew Weaver, an adviser for battleground Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), measures the effectiveness of GOP attack ads on defunding the police. He found that GOP attack ads accusing Democrats of wanting to defund the police were not any more effective than other TV spots run by Republicans.

Democratic ads that refuted the GOP’s claims that they were looking to defund the police made a difference. Those candidates who aired such spots performed better than President Joe Biden by 1.5% for every 1,000 gross ratings points — a measure of advertising impact run.

Celinda Lake, a pollster who does work for the Democratic National Committee is issuing a similar warning. She claims that calls by activists to "defund" police departments can and have hurt Democrats in tight races – and that voters have little appetite for 'defunding the police,' and instead want changes in policing.

David Shor, a data scientist, claims that in the summer following the emergence of “defund the police” as a nationally salient issue, support for Biden among Hispanic voters declined.

A 73-page report conducted by several prominent Democratic advocacy groups, raises similar concerns. The report analyzing the Democrats performance in 2020 concludes that the party is at risk of losing ground with Black, Hispanic and Asian American voters unless it does a better job presenting an economic agenda and countering Republican efforts to spread misinformation.

The report also claims that race was a primary focus throughout the cycle – as Black Lives Matter protesters and the Defund the Police movement assumed form in the Summer of 2020.

In the districts analyzed in the report, those in which “law and order” or “socialism” was a continued drumbeat also saw a higher share of Latino/AAPI/Black voters who supported the GOP.

In NY-02, when Jackie Gordon was asked if she supported defunding the police, she responded by pointing to her decades long career in law enforcement, as a military police officer, working with the police as a member of the Babylon town council, and then as a guidance counselor, inviting police into her school – internal polling indicated that constituents didn't buy this line of opposition attack.

In NE-02, Kara Eastman refuted the claim that she wanted to defund the police both in debates and on social media, and cited her experience working with police departments as a social worker, but she did not feel her approach blunted the attacks.

Campaigns and practitioners alike widely described 2020 messaging as nationalized with Trump at the top of the ticket. In the absence of strong party branding from the Democrats, many latched on to GOP talking points, which suggest that Democratic candidates would “burn down your house and take away the police.”

This has yielded split ticket districts. Dana Balter described NY-24 not as a swing district, but a split ticket district, where “we vote Democrat for president and Republican for congress”.

Candidates, journalists, party leaders, and pundits have focused heavily on the impact of Defund the Police as a solo variable, it was one of the multiple issues that Republicans used to paint Democrats as radicals.

How much Defund the Police dominated public discourse – and by extension how much it required campaign resources to address the issue – varied widely by state and district.

Based on interviews, data analysis, polling, and ads analysis in the report, Defund the Police was a part of culture-based attacks on Democrats that sought to invoke fears among voters about any Democrat running for office.

In a review of 20 digital ads with the highest number of impressions run by each candidate in 19 races (760 total ads), 52 mentioned Defund the Police – with 2 run by Democrats and 50 run by Republicans. Defund the Police was mentioned in 14% of the GOP digital ads with the highest number of impressions.

It was also found that Republicans used Defund the police to best effect against candidates of color in swing districts with large white populations.

Crime could easily shift the political landscape in the 2022 midterm elections. A recent survey completed by YouGov on May 26 illustrates this.

When asked which issues were “very big problems,” 49% of Americans place violent crime at the top of the list, compared to 39% for the economy and just 32% for the pandemic. 45% of Democrats regard violent crime as a very big problem – 59% of Blacks and 52% of Hispanics agree.

The politics of violent crime is nuanced and complex. Americans agree that there is a problem with systemic racism in policing.

Only 23% of Americans think that cutting funding for police departments is a good idea and only 35% of Blacks, 26% of Hispanics, and 36% of Democrats endorse funding cuts. Across the country, most Americans want fairer policing, not less policing – hence why the slogan defund the police has the potential to hurt Democrats in the 2022 midterms.

Official statistics support public perceptions that violent crime is getting worse. This means that elected officials from the top on down are likely to be held responsible.

Only 36% of Americans approve of President Biden’s handling of this issue, far fewer than for his management of the pandemic (54%) and the economy (45%).

The administration’s efforts to craft an effective response will face a Democratic Party that is divided on the issue, giving Republicans an opportunity to gain ground on it.

Eric Adams good performance in the race for New York Governor in 2021 shows that the electorate is consolidating around nominees who support law enforcement.

Rep. Val Demings (D-FL 10) highlighting her background as Orlando’s first female police chief, and major Democratic groups consolidating behind her candidacy illustrates to us that most of the Democratic party is rightfully concerned about crime.


To quell this crime wave in U.S cities — reforming the police by enacting policies that ensure police are held accountable should be a top priority for the Biden administration.

This will build trust between the police and citizens, which will ultimately yield lower crime rates. Data supporting the effectiveness of “defunding the police” is scant.

People want accountable, effective policing, not the defunding or abolition of police forces. An inability to balance safety considerations with criminal justice reforms will bring trouble to Democrats down the ballot in 2022.

It is time for mayors to get this crime surge under control. More people in prisons and more thuggish policing certainly won't help. Neither will the defunding or abolition of police forces.

More crime and defunding of police departments will bring trouble for Democrats in 2022. Following public opinion and enacting much needed reforms in policing is the best way forward.

Investing in communities while ensuring that our cities are safe will yield the best possible outcomes for all.


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