Few law enforcement agencies, regardless of size, are being spared. It’s being called a “perfect storm” and the biggest budget cuts in a decade.
“It’s the fastest rise in murder rates since the late 1960s,” NY Post.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents say they are concerned that crime is rising in the nation’s cities.
Unless we radically rearrange what we expect from law enforcement agencies or sufficiently fund them, it seems impossible to address rapidly increasing violent crime, people moving out of cities, a challenging economy, and what seems to be neverending riots and protests
Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.
Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Former police officer. Aspiring drummer.
I wrote in April that increases in crime and reductions in police budgets were coming as a result of COVID and the economy based on the last recession, Budget Cuts And Increased Crime Coming.
I said that “Crime will be an issue when the country reopens from the pandemic,” and “law enforcement will take substantial budget hits.”
But few foresaw the full economic impacts, skyrocketing violence, the vast reductions in tax revenue, and the calls to defund law enforcement agencies after the death of George Floyd.
Some writers suggested that the COVID lockdowns were going to have significant social repercussions; those impacts are much stronger than anyone predicted.
Law enforcement agencies are going through fiscal and social challenges unlike anything I’ve seen after decades in the justice system.
Between The Police Executive Research Forum study (below), decreased tax revenue from COVID’s impact on the economy, and flat to reduced funding since 2009 per USDOJ research (also below), it’s likely that most police agencies in the United States will be impacted during extraordinarily taxing times.
Half Of Police Agencies Report Cuts-USA Today
Facing the dual forces of the coronavirus pandemic and the national movement to “defund the police,” law enforcement agencies across the country are bracing for budget reductions not seen in more than a decade.
Nearly half of 258 agencies surveyed this month are reporting that funding has already been slashed or is expected to be reduced, according to a report by the Police Executive Research Forum, a non-partisan research organization.
Much of the funding is being pulled from equipment, hiring and training accounts, even as a number of cities also are tracking abrupt spikes in violent crime, the report concluded.
Few agencies, regardless of size, are being spared. It’s being called a “perfect storm” and the biggest budget cuts in a decade.
The article cites a variety of examples as to the funding crisis and how law enforcement agencies are responding, USA Today.
Police Funding Has Been Flat For Years And Coincides With Increased Violence
Police spending started to decrease around 2009 after decades-long decreases in violent crime (which ended in 2015). Reduced violence coexisted with considerable increases in law enforcement funding up to that point, Defunding The Police.
Using the FBI numbers, the violent crime rate fell 48% between 1993 and 2016. Using data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (National Crime Survey), the rate fell 74% during that span, Crime in America.
Police local spending per capita (inflation-adjusted) has been relatively flat with a small decrease (0.7 percent) from 2009 to 2017 after rising considerably (30 percent) from 2000 to 2009.
15 of the 25 largest US cities decreased their percentage (inflation-adjusted) of direct general expenditures devoted to police protection between 2000 and 2017.
Violence (and serious violence) started to increase considerably in 2015 during a time of flat or decreased spending and during a time where the percentage of inflation-adjusted city expenditures for law enforcement was mostly declining, US Crime.
With the explosion of violence in a wide variety of cities affected by recent protests and a twenty-eight percent increase in violence since 2015 per the Bureau Of Justice Statistics and with serious violent crime increasing per BJS, the current and past increases in violence have a correlation with reduced or flat national police-expenditures.
Cops Leaving-Proactive Contacts Down
Cities are having difficult times keeping and recruiting cops. Baltimore can’t recruit cops in sufficient numbers to overcome those leaving. City police report that it hired 147 officers in 2019. That contrasts with the 177 officers who left per a local television station. Per a survey, most D.C. police officers are considering leaving. Similar stories are reported throughout the country. There are multiple news reports of police officers retiring or leaving law enforcement.
There is a 63 percent decrease in police recruitment. Police agencies across the country are having trouble keeping and hiring police officers, according to a new survey obtained by ABC News. Produced by the Police Executive Research Forum, the survey shows a “triple threat” for police departments: there is a decrease in applications, early exits and higher rates of retirement. Departments are also having trouble hiring non-white/minority applicants the most, followed by female officers, according to the survey. The rate of full-time police officers decreased by 11 percent from 1997 to 2016, Declining Cops.
Police initiated contacts are down by huge numbers, Proactive Contacts. Arrests are also down considerably, Arrests.
Is the immense negativity thrown at cops causing them to pull back? Per Pew, 72% say officers in their department are now less willing to stop and question suspicious persons. Overall, more than eight-in-ten (86%) say police work is harder today as a result of high-profile, negative incidents. About nine-in-ten officers (93%) say their colleagues worry more about their personal safety – a level of concern recorded even before a total of eight officers died in separate ambush-style attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Cops Holding Back?
The data on police PTSD, suicides, drug and alcohol use and general stress is well documented, see Police Stress. Is policing becoming too hard, too emotionally draining? Is that why recruitment and retention are problems?
More police officers have died from the Coronavirus than doctors and nurses, Cops Dying. Thousands of police officers are assaulted or killed on a yearly basis. Hundreds more were injured (many seriously) during the recent disturbances.
Families see the danger. They see endless negative media coverage. They insist that their family members leave policing.
Crime is Skyrocketing in Major Cities
There is no one article documenting the astounding rise in urban violent crime but news reports suggest that the cities where protests and or riots have occurred are being hit the hardest, Governing.Com.
It’s the African American communities that are bearing the brunt of the violence, NBC News.
In some cities where violence has decreased due to COVID restrictions, they still have very high rates of violent crime. Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Chicago all have witnessed a drop of more than 30%. Violent crimes such as aggravated assaults and robberies also fell substantially, probably guided by the pandemic, NPR. Yet all of these cities have very high rates of violence or increased shootings and homicides since pandemic restrictions were lifted.
For a starting point for a list of cities with increases in violence, see Fox News or the Wall Street Journal.
New Fear Of Crime Data
A majority of Americans say they are concerned about rising crime in U.S. cities, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released exclusively to The Hill.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents say they are concerned that crime is rising in the nation’s cities, while 46 percent of respondents said they were concerned about rising crime in their own communities, The Hill.
This may be the most challenging time for law enforcement in many decades. Coupled with COVID tax reductions and budget cuts and with rapidly increasing violence, law enforcement agencies are immensely affected.
If defunding and reduced services are added to the mix, police agencies will be hard-pressed to respond to growing violence and ceaseless protests.
It’s also clear that local leaders in New York, CBS, Baltimore, and additional cities are calling for increased police budgets or an increased police presence. Only 15 percent supports defunding. The African American Mayors Association’s crime plan does not favor defunding police, Public Opinion.
Yet via COVID, the economy, earlier efforts to lessen police spending, and the results of protests and riots, law enforcement is taking considerable budget hits.
Unless we radically rearrange what we expect from law enforcement agencies or sufficiently fund them, it seems impossible to address rapidly increasing violent crime, people moving out of cities, a challenging economy, and what seems to be neverending riots and protests.