A year after George Floyd’s death, political officials in major cities are, reversing pledges to decrease police funding in the face of rising crime rates.
After months of budget cuts and low morale, elected officials in cities such as Minneapolis, New York City, and Los Angeles are now seeking to increase funding for police forces. At the same time, violent crime is on the rise in major cities across the United States.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat, remarked in a press conference on May 7 in response to the city’s recent wave of violence, “The violence needs to stop, it’s unacceptable. People deserve to feel safe in their neighborhood; they deserve to be able to send their kids out to the sidewalk to play and to recreate without bullets flying by. That’s unacceptable. We should be holding these perpetrators accountable.”
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, activists’ calls to defund the police were blamed for a large part of the rise in crime rates, according to Frey. Last year, Floyd’s death sparked major rioting and requests for police resources to be redirected to social services. Last year, violent crime in Minneapolis increased by 21%, and the trend is expected to continue until 2021.
Frey remarked. Frey said at a news conference earlier this week that he is seeking federal and state assistance to reduce violence in his city, citing the lack of officers in Minneapolis as an example, “When you make big, overarching statements that we’re going to defund or abolish and dismantle the police department and get rid of all the officers, there’s an impact to that.”
The increase in crime has been more pronounced in Los Angeles. Last year, violent crime in the city increased by 36% as elected officials cut $150 million from the local police department, accounting for around 8% of the department’s budget. The number of killings in the city surpassed 350 for the first time in a decade.
Despite Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti and the L.A. Local Council’s earlier vow to decrease police funding, city leaders reversed their positions this week. According to The New York Times, the city council approved more cash for the police department to hire 250 officers, thus undoing the cuts made last year.
To fight rising crime in New York City, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this month that the city will create a new police precinct in Southeast Queens. De Blasio committed to reduce $1 billion from the New York City Police Department’s budget, prompting the announcement of more law enforcement. According to Politico, de Blasio and the city council are arguing about what expenditures to reduce amid the city’s crime epidemic and only a small portion of the projected savings have been implemented.
From January to April, the number of shootings in New York City increased by more than half compared to the same period the previous year. The uptick follows a year in which gunshots soared by 97 percent and killings soared by 45 percent across the city.