FBI Statistics Show a 30% Increase in Murder in 2020. More Evidence That Defunding Police Wasn’t a Good Idea.
The surge in violent crime over the past year—murders in particular—has been astounding and historic.
The numbers back this up and paint a grim picture.
Property crime is generally down, but violent crime is way, way up.
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The murder rate rose by nearly 30% in 2020, more than any other time in the last half-century. This is according to recently released statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its annual report on crime.
The report shows that there were 4,901 more murders committed in 2020 than in 2019.
It’s the largest single-year increase—by a wide margin—in murder rate since the FBI began compiling these statistics in 1960.
“The Uniform Crime Report will stand as the official word on an unusually grim year, detailing a rise in murder of around 29 percent,” reported The New York Times. “The previous largest one-year change was a 12.7 percent increase in 1968. The national rate—murders per 100,000—still remains about one-third below the rate in the early 1990s.”
The total murder rate is still far away from its historic high, but the trend is unmistakable. It looks like 2021 will have similar numbers to 2020, with only a slight dip in the national rate of increase in murder.
Again, that’s a dip in murder rate, not total murders. The trend is still going up, but not quite as historically fast.
And in some places, like Portland, the rate of increase actually continues to climb. More on Portland in just a moment.
Of course, some on the left have been quick to conclude that the issue is guns or possibly even simply the pandemic itself.
It’s also important to note that the murder increase didn’t really start until the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. This was after the pandemic began and the country went into various states of lockdown.
While there certainly could be a variety of factors involved in the murder surge, it’s hard not to see both the efforts to defund the police and—perhaps more importantly—the “Minneapolis Effect,” as driving factors.
Following Floyd’s death, many cities hopped aboard the “defund the police” movement. Los Angeles, Baltimore, Seattle, Chicago, Portland, and Minneapolis went through with this idea, often stripping millions of dollars out of their police budgets and directing them toward other social services.
Minneapolis is going even further and is looking to abolish its police department altogether.
This push to defund, which happened during a time of protests and increasing anti-police rhetoric from activists and lawmakers created what some have called the “Minneapolis Effect.”
This is similar to the “Ferguson Effect,” which was the violence that followed the fatal police shooting of a black man in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
The effect of this phenomenon was described by Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah, on a Heritage Foundation panel in March.
Here I think we have anti-police protests surrounding George Floyd’s killing. As a result, police had to be redeployed away from their normal beats and high-crime areas to police the protests. And even extending beyond that, I think what we see has happened is a reduction in policing, particularly the kinds of policing that might be expected to have the most effect on homicides and shooting crimes.
Departments moved away from proactive policing, and now struggle to clamp down on violent crime as police officers leave the force and are not replaced.
Many of the cities that defunded their police departments in 2020—like Portland—have been among the hardest hit by shootings. Some of these same cities later tacitly conceded that the idea was a failure by re-funding their police departments and re-creating proactive policing programs under new names.
Unfortunately, the issue is not just with the police. How much does policing matter when the justice system intentionally fails to prosecute people for crimes committed?
It’s hard not to see this toxic stew of attitudes and policies as a massive contributing factor toward why we have such a violent mess on our hands now.
“No one factor explains this criminal surge,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board concluded. “But it’s no coincidence that the bloodshed increased as cities slashed police budgets, progressive prosecutors demanded leniency and eliminated bail for criminals, and jails and prisons released thousands of lawbreakers amid the Covid-19 outbreak.”
It’s ironic that many of the defund-the-police policies were putatively adopted to stop “systemic racism.” But as the murder numbers indicate, most of the victims of the violent crime surge have been black and Latino. According to the FBI’s data, over half of the murder victims in 2020 were black.
What’s being done in the name of Black Lives Matter is destroying countless black lives and making American cities a dangerous place to be.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal
The Austin Police Department is warning it won’t be responding to non-life threatening 911 calls.
Starting Friday, Austin’s sworn police officers will no longer be responding in person to non-emergency calls because of severe staffing shortages, APD announced.
The announcement comes after the Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies Organization in Houston warned residents that if they were “robbed, raped or shot” to “hold their breath and pray” because they might not have the personnel to respond.
The Austin no-response announcement includes vehicle collisions with no injuries and burglaries no longer in progress or where the suspect has fled the scene. Instead of calling 911, residents are being told to call 311 to file a non-emergency police report.
An APD spokesperson told Fox News that while a sworn police officer might not respond in person, a civilian officer, like a crime scene technician, might.
The department “regularly reviews response policies and procedures to ensure APD prioritizes calls with an immediate threat to life or property over non-emergency calls for service,” she said.
The staffing shortages and inability to respond to non-life threatening 911 calls is a direct result of the Austin City Council’s defunding of the APD last year, cutting $150 million of its budget, and other changes that were implemented affecting how the department operates.
“As a result of a recent review of APD’s patrol COVID mitigation protocols initiated in May 2020, recent staffing challenges and aligning with the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force patrol response recommendations, APD will change call routing and response for non-emergency calls for service effective October 1, 2021,” she said.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday told Fox News that APD hasn’t been able to hire new officers because it hasn’t been able to have a police academy for nearly two years. As a result, there aren’t enough patrol officers to respond to non-emergency calls.
“Probably about 95% of the time our shifts don’t meet minimum staffing … and that is the reason they’ve started cutting back on what types of calls are answered,” Casaday said. “It’s not optimal. It’s not providing a quality service to the community. But the community also needs to understand that we’re under a dire staffing crisis.”
After the City Council cut funding last year, by July, response times to 911 calls were 20-30 minutes longer on average, and the homicide rate is at a level that “we’ve never really seen here before,” interim chief Joseph Chacon said at the time. Cutting APD funds by $150 million resulted in canceling multiple cadet classes and disbanding multiple units responsible for responding to DWIs, domestic violence calls, stalking, and criminal interdiction.
The APD has been losing 15 to 20 officers a month, with many quitting and retiring and not enough new recruits to replace them. The department has projected 235 vacancies by May 2022, and 340 vacancies by May 2023.
while the APD has recently begun to resume cadet classes, it will take a while to get new officers on the streets. The city is paying more than $10,000 per day, with a maximum of $580,000 per year, to Joyce James Consulting to provide an “anti-racism” Critical Race Theory-based curriculum for a “reimagining public safety campaign.”
While the Houston sheriff’s organization sued Harris County over a lack of funding and noncompliance with regulations, a bipartisan activist group, Save Austin Now, took another approach. It initiated its second successful ballot initiative this year to allow voters to restore police funding.
“Austin doesn’t feel as safe recently. Because it isn’t,” the group argued as part of its campaign. “We’ve seen a series of city policy decisions over the last two years that have led to a surge in both violent crime and property crime against Austinites. A 300% increase in murders this year. A double-digit increase in property crimes such as burglaries and car jackings.”
“As Austin’s crime rate has soared, the federal government has taken note of it and sent in resources to help stabilize the chaos,” it adds. “But we cannot rely on the federal government’s Operation Undaunted to provide us with the local resources we’ll need to fight this trend: We’ll have to do it ourselves.”
Their petition received the required number of votes and its proposed public safety law will be on the November ballot. Among other things, it includes adding officers to APD according to the nationally recognized “Safe City Standard,” which stipulates two police officers hired for every 1,000 citizens.
Married couple Jeni Pearsons and Michael Store aren’t wealthy.
Pearsons works at a nonprofit theater in Los Angeles , and Store is a transportation coordinator in the film industry. The couple has been saving for retirement for years, buying silver here and there when they could afford it. To keep their property safe, they rented a safe deposit box at U.S. Private Vaults.
They thought everything was above board until news broke earlier this year about a raid at the Beverly Hills business.
The government alleged that the company conspired with customers to sell drugs, launder money, and stash ill-gotten goods.
Prosecutors argued they were within their rights and that the boxes contained weapons and drugs. They also took jewelry, precious metals, and stacks of money to an undisclosed warehouse. Their final haul was worth around $86 million.
The problem is that federal authorities took the items from people who hadn’t been accused of a crime, including Pearsons and Store.
They’ve been able to keep it because of the country’s vague standards of civil forfeiture law, which allows the government to seize property and assets without any actual evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
During the raid, the authorities also seized Joseph Ruiz’s life savings.
The unemployed chef, who had a side job selling bongs made from liquor bottles, had stored $57,000 in his safety deposit box.
Prosecutors argued that he couldn’t possibly make enough money to have that much saved up and accused him of being an unlicensed marijuana dealer.
He went to court to get his money back and won. The government dropped its case against him after he was able to provide documents that showed the source of his money was legitimate.
“It was a complete violation of my privacy,” Ruiz told the Los Angeles Times. “They tried to discredit my character.”
Ruiz is one of 800 people whose money and property were taken in the March 22 raid. Six months later, the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles hasn’t been able to prove criminal wrongdoing by the majority of box holders whose belongings the government is actively trying to keep.
Like Ruiz, 65 others have filed court documents claiming the government grab was unconstitutional.
An investigation by the Los Angeles Times shows that the government’s reasons for taking money and property against numerous others were just as flimsy as it was in Ruiz’s case.
Agents claim drug-sniffing dogs alerted them to the scent of narcotics on the seized cash, but multiple analyses of drug-dog alerts have consistently shown high error rates, some hitting past the 50% mark.
“In effect, some of these K-9 units are worse than a coin flip,” Washington Post columnist Radley Balko said in a post about the accuracy of canine searches. He added that “while dogs are indeed capable of sniffing out illicit drugs, we’ve bred into them another overriding train: the desire to please. Even drug dogs with conscientious handlers will read their handlers’ unintentional body language and alert accordingly.”
Federal authorities have also pointed to the use of rubber bands to keep stacks of cash together, as well as other normal ways of storing currency, as tell-tale signs of money laundering and drug trafficking from the U.S. Private Vaults box holders.
The government also said in court documents that it deposited all the seized money in a bank, which experts say would make it impossible to test which drugs may have come in contact with which bills.
And even though U.S. Private Vaults was indicted in February on charges of conspiring with unnamed customers to sell drugs and launder money, no one has been charged.
The criminal case against them hasn’t moved forward, and the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles isn’t saying why, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Unfortunately for many of the box holders, in civil forfeiture cases, a person is often guilty until proven innocent. No criminal conviction is required, and the government only has to show that it’s more likely than not that the money or property taken was linked to illegal activity.
Civil forfeiture was initially one way to cripple large-scale criminal enterprises by taking their assets. However, the practice has been widely abused, with victims forced to give up their homes and property and then spent small fortunes trying to get them back.
“Today, aided by deeply flawed federal and state laws, many police departments use forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, making seizures motivated by profit rather than crime-fighting,” the American Civil Liberties Union said. “For people whose property has been seized through civil asset forfeiture, legally regaining such property is notoriously difficult and expensive, with costs sometimes exceeding the value of the property.”
For Pearsons and Store, the government’s seizure of their silver is unacceptable, and they have decided to fight back.
They, along with six others, have teamed up with the Institute for Justice for a class-action lawsuit challenging the government’s raid as an illegal search.
“The government’s theory is that having cash makes you a presumptive criminal, and I think every American should be worried about that,” IJ senior attorney Rob Johnson said.