Activists continue to call for defunded police departments during weeks of protests following the death of George Floyd. At the same time, the police are facing a spike in violent crime in several cities across the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Milwaukee is set to break the record of 167 homicides that were reported in 1991 when serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was free. Homicides in Chicago are nearing the record-high numbers from 2016, which was the highest homicide rate since 1996. Kansas City, Missouri, had 99 homicides during the first 6 months of this year, more than that same period in any previous year, the Wall Street Journal reported. Homicides are up 23% in New York and 11.6% in Los Angeles, both of which had seen falling homicide rates in previous years.
Meanwhile, the idea of defunding the police has continued to gain traction. The Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to dismantle their police department last month, and the Oakland School Board followed suit, voting to ban police from their California schools.
Major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, have passed massive budget cuts for the police departments. New York City Officials cut $1 billion from the NYPD June 30, and the next day, the Los Angeles City Council cut $150 million from their police budget.
Some officers said that cities are cutting police budgets without a plan in place to reallocate the money to allow the department to do its job. “You don’t tear down the building you’re living in until you have a new building to move into,” said Art Acevedo, Houston police chief and head of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales called the timing of coronavirus, massive unemployment and nationwide protests a “perfect storm,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
The coronavirus pandemic also led to budget cuts for police departments and worsened public relations by making community outreach difficult, experts said.
“We had a series of events that many of us probably never experienced in our time,” Morales noted.
Others have said being a police officer today is more dangerous. Former New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly said “what you see is a backing away.”
Many departments are worried about officers retiring early as morale has suffered within departments. The “Blu Flu” in Atlanta made headlines last month after police officers called out sick or didn’t show up for their shift after one of their fellow officers was charged with felony murder for the death of Rayshard Brooks. A video showed Brooks resisting arrest before grabbing the officer’s taser, which he was attempting to run away with when he was shot.
The Atlanta Police Department said in a June 17 tweet that “the department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents.”
Last week, 179 NYPD officers resigned. In 2019, just 35 officers resigned within the same period, making this year an increase of 411%.
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