The “defund the police” movement is dead. There may still be Democrats who use the phrase or try to hide behind the Swiss Army knife of euphemisms like “we need to reimagine public safety and reallocate resources.” But the movement that reached a crescendo in 2020 after George Floyd was killed had been on life support for quite some time. A series of political developments across the country finally killed it.
The most recent is related to a crime bill being proposed by the D.C. city council that would revise the criminal code in the nation’s capital. The bill’s supporters claim that it will provide needed updates like clearly defining crimes and raising sentences to a code that was created by Congress in 1901.
Critics say the bill reduces maximum penalties for violent crimes at a time when homicides in the city are up 30% from last year.
While the Home Rule Act gives D.C. autonomy over its own affairs, because it is the federal capital, Congress still reviews all legislation before it becomes law. More than 30 Democrats in both the House and Senate joined their Republican colleagues in voting to overturn the bill, a move that was made easier after President Biden said he would not veto efforts to overturn the bill.
This change of heart toward crime is not restricted to Democrats in Washington.
Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, recently told business owners that they should require customers to remove their masks when they enter their stores. Adams sees universal masking as a way for criminals to blend in with civilians, but face masks have become a binky that neurotic liberals use to pacify the anxiety they feel when breathing fresh air.
Residents of the Windy City also sent a strong message to the politicians responsible for addressing Chicago’s crime problem. Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her reelection bid, the first mayor of the city to do so in 40 years. Concerns about crime were one of the major issues on the ballot. One of the two men who advanced to the runoff is a progressive who called for defunding the police in 2020. The other candidate has pledged to get tough on crime. Regardless of the outcome of the runoff election, voters sent a clear message to a mayor whose tenure included more than 800 homicides in 2021 and 20,000 robberies in 2022.
Brandon Scott, the mayor of Baltimore, is also learning the difference between ideology and governance. He was serving as the president of the Baltimore city council in June 2020 when it voted 13-2 to cut $22 million from the police budget. He won his bid for mayor and assumed office in December 2020. The budget he submitted in April 2021 included a $28 million increase in police funding. Some of Scott’s press conferences to address gun violence in Baltimore suggest his time as mayor has knocked the radical streak right out of him.
In the span of two years, Democrats across the country went from openly calling for defunding the police to giving law enforcement more money and publicly criticizing criminals.
The mayor of D.C., Muriel Bowser, painted “Black Lives Matter” on Pennsylvania Ave. near the White House in 2020. But the past three years have taught elected officials some very valuable lessons. Crime and disorder are like cancer. Refusing to deal with them inevitably leads to them to grow and spread.
That is why D.C.’s police chief recently said that one way to stop crime is to keep violent offenders in jail. He also made a statement that probably shocked everyone who heard it: The average homicide suspect in D.C. has 11 prior arrests. The truth goes a little deeper because the average homicide victim also has roughly the same arrest history as the person who shot him.
It’s not just politicians having a hard time trying to find solutions to crime. My time with D.C.’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention confirmed what I always knew: The black residents living in high-crime neighborhoods are the main ones clamoring for more police.
Listening to them speak about their frustration revealed why these debates are so difficult and divisive. The shootings and homicides in cities like D.C., Baltimore, St. Louis, and Philadelphia have created a generational conflict in a subset of majority-black neighborhoods. Older residents who own property and are invested in the community are on one side. Young people with few responsibilities and no ownership stake in the neighborhood are on the other. The people who fight against “mass incarceration” have their cousins in mind, but their advocacy completely ignores the pleas of their grandmothers.
I’ve been in meetings where residents said they wanted more police patrolling their neighborhoods for longer stretches of time and being more proactive to prevent crime. In the next breath, the same people said they did not want to see any more young black men go to jail. Given the demographics of who commits the shootings in Washington, I knew that was a logical impossibility.
The national conversation about street crime has been taken over in recent years by activists and ideologues, including professional athletes like Colin Kaepernick, self-avowed Marxists like the founders of Black Lives Matter, and “Negrotown” journalists who never have to deal with the consequences of the ideas they promote.
The people close to the problem know that the police presence in these neighborhoods is a response to the disorder, not the cause of it. The reason cops are in the schools – another contested battle in the nation’s capital – is because order has left them.
All of these issues ultimately go back to the home. No amount of planning and strategizing about crime prevention will be successful if elected officials and their advisers ignore the role families play in socialization and values development. When a teenage boy shoots and kills one of his peers, the first adults who should be held accountable for his actions are his parents, not police officers, teachers, or social workers.
Progressive politicians haven’t learned that lesson yet, mainly because they believe they have the power and intellect to solve every problem. There is, however, one message that citizens are sending to their elected officials loud and clear: Crime doesn’t pay.