Let’s Handcuff the Criminals – Not the Police

Let’s Handcuff the Criminals – Not the Police

© David Burton 2023

Handcuff the Criminals

     This past year, two police unions were suing Boston in an effort to cuff the city and its council’s ability to implement the controversial rule restricting less-lethal measures such as pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets.
     The Boston Police Superior Officers Federation and the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society filed the suit on 18 July 2022 over the ordinance, which went into law in 2021.
     In a statement, the unions, who were at odds with the city administration since shortly after the new mayor took office, slammed in particular the city council’s passage of the rule as “unlawful interference with police procedures and tactics.”
     The complaint from the suit listed Boston’s Mayor, the City Council President and the Acting Police Commissioner as defendants and claimed that there was a decades-long legal history of the council passing ordinances to change departmental policy — and courts going against them, including rules from as far back as the 1970s over shotgun use, minimum force size and a requirement that all cruisers be constantly staffed.
     All of those, the unions say in their legal complaint in Suffolk Superior Court, were allowed to be ignored. At the time, the department had hundreds fewer officers than the 2,500 required by statute, all cars were not staffed round the clock and they didn’t all have shotguns with them, per the complaint.
     The rule was signed into law last year, and was prompted by the protests around racial issues that arose in the summer of 2020. Activists said police were too aggressive in deploying tear gas and pepper spray at a protest that turned riot in downtown Boston on 31 May 31 2020. The council then passed the rules heavily restricting the chemical agents’ use - and the use of rubber bullets and other less-lethal kinetic projectiles - in late 2020 on an 8-5 vote, but the then-Mayor vetoed it and the council didn’t have the votes for an override.
     But after the mayor left office, the council passed a slightly amended version of it, and the then-Acting Mayor signed it.
     The two police unions were looking for declarative relief from a Suffolk Superior judge about whether the 2021 ordinance and the other older ones were all valid - and it also expanded the issue to the recently created Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, seeking a declaration on whether that organization was able to investigate officers.
     One union president said in a statement that there was “no excuse for politicians to interfere with the operations of our members” and that the ongoing “anti-police narrative is reckless and dangerous.”
     A second union president said, “This is an issue that affects not just our officer’s safety, it affects the communities we serve, those that work and visit our great city.
     The new legislation on police weaponry and tactics was in the works in Boston since late 2020, after activists and politicians felt BPD cops were too forceful in deploying tear gas and pepper spray on civilian protesters.[1]

     Whenever support for the police has waned, criminal activity has increased and law-abiding citizens have paid a high price. Following the Floyd George death in Minneapolis at the hands of the police, several cities such as Austin, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York and Portland shifted funds from their police departments. The results were not good! When you defund the police, people die.

     Cities in parts of the U.S. that slashed their police department funding, in part as a result of police-involved shootings, saw an uptick in certain crimes immediately afterward, according to data analyzed by Fox News.
     Cities such as Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas, shifted funds from police departments to social services programs. Such cuts led some departments to lay off officers, cancel recruiting classes or retreat from hiring goals.
     As police departments were left to make do with shrunken budgets and less support, some big cities saw sometimes drastic upticks in murders and other violent crimes.
     Here's a look at how some of the cities have fared in terms of crime numbers from when the respective budget cuts took effect through March of 2021.
     In Minneapolis, the rush to defund its police department backfired as crime spiked.
     Between 11 December 2020, and 28 March 2021, murders in the city rose 46% compared to the same time period a year earlier. Going back further, there were 49% more homicides since the initial budget cut in July 2020, compared to the reported year-over-year numbers.
     Total violent crime in Minneapolis between 22 July 22 2020, and 28 March 2021 was also up 22% year-over-year. The effort to defund the police was largely seen as being sparked by Floyd's death in May 2020 and the protests and civil unrest that followed.
     In December of 2020, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a budget that shifted approximately $8 million from the police department toward violence prevention and other programs. The plan redirected the nearly $8 million from the $179 million policing budget to mental health teams, violence prevention programs and other “feel-good” but relatively useless and ill-considered initiatives.
     In Portland, Oregon, the number of shootings rose after the city’s gun response unit was disbanded. Records show that murders more than tripled year-over-year. Police statistics from July 2020, when the city’s budget cuts were made, until February 2021 show that homicides in the city skyrocketed more than 270% compared to the same time the previous year.
     Portland’s city commissioners voted in mid-June of 2020 to cut nearly $16 million from the police budget in response to alleged concerns about the misuse of force and racial injustice.
     The money saved by eliminating a gun reduction violence team, school resource officers and a transit division was to be redirected to social service programs. The cut in funding fell short of some protesters’ demanded cuts of $50 million for police. Policing in Portland went through tough times in 2021, as protesters and rioters marched in Portland streets demanding change and an end to purported systemic racism. The unrest was often violent and destructive and, in many instances, targeted law enforcement officers and facilities.
     In New York City, murders were up nearly 12%, year-to-date, as of 21 March 2021.The number of shootings rose over 40% in 2021, compared to the the same period the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of shooting victims during that time period jumped 39%, from 2020 to 2021.
     The New York City Council voted in July of 2021 to move $1 billion away from the NYPD’s budget to education and social services in 2021. But protesters – who had been camped outside City Hall for days, if not weeks, at the time – and some lawmakers said the billion-dollar reduction was merely shifting police functions and did not go far enough.
     The consequences of the funding reduction were: canceling a nearly 1,200-person police recruiting class, halving overtime spending, redeploying officers from administrative functions to patrol, ending police responsibility for school crossing guards, and homeless outreach. Perhaps most significant in light of the number of school shootings in 2021 and 2022 was the police department giving up control over public school security.
     Out in California, the Los Angeles police department reported a 38% increase in murders in 2020, despite the coronavirus mandates that kept residents indoors. For the start of 2021, murders were up over 28% as of 13 March. The number of shooting victims nearly doubled through 13 March 13, 2021, compared to the previous year. Aggravated assaults were also up more than 8% during this same time period. Meanwhile, city leaders voted in July of 2021 to cut the Los Angeles Police Department budget by $150 million, reducing the number of officers to a level not seen for more than a decade.
     About two-thirds of the funding cut was earmarked for police overtime and was instead used to provide services and programs for communities of color, including a youth summer jobs program.
     In Austin, Texas, the money cut from the police budget was used to operate a homeless hotel.
     As of February 2021, aggravated assaults in Austin were up 26%, from the same period in 2020. In August of 2020, the Austin City Council unanimously voted to cut roughly one-third of the city’s $434 million police budget. The funds were designated to be redirected to social services in the 2021 fiscal budget.[2]

     It’s not just funding cuts that have caused an uptick in crime in America. Things have gotten worse because of our handcuffing of the police in the performance of their duties. Police feel a lack of public support and unfair treatment at the hands of the media and the public. Chicago, Illinois is one of the most crime-ridden cities in the U.S. Its crime rate has been on the increase for years. But, recently, Chicago police have made arrests in fewer and fewer crimes.

     The decline mirrors a drop in nearly every category of officers’ activity tracked by the Chicago Police Department. As violent crime in Chicago soared, arrests fell to historic lows. Violent crime in Chicago continues to surge – and now criminals are mostly getting away with it.
     The police made arrests in just 12% of crimes reported in 2021. That’s the lowest level since at least 2001, the first year the data was made publicly available. The overall arrest rate peaked at nearly 31% in 2005 and has dropped steadily since.
     The decline in arrests mirrors a drop in nearly every category of police officers’ activity tracked by the Chicago Police Department. The numbers of traffic stops, tickets and investigative stops - in which pedestrians are patted down or searched by officers on the street - all have plummeted. The number of investigative stops dropped by more than half between 2019 and 2021, falling from 155,000 citywide to 69,000.
     And fewer crimes overall are getting reported - by victims and by the police, who used to produce many crime reports themselves while patrolling their beats. The number of reported crimes has fallen from just under 500,000 in 2001 to just over 200,000 in 2021. Arrests have fallen from 141,000 in 2001 to 25,000. All this while the crime rate has continued to grow!
     The steep slowdown in arrests amounts to a pullback by police officers as the city has experienced its most violent years in decades, a rise also seen in other major U.S. cities during the coronavirus pandemic and in the wake of the 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
     Cops were saying they increasingly feel that making an arrest wasn’t worth risking their lives, their jobs or becoming a viral news villain.
     Officers made arrests in fewer than 6% of those crime categories that were reported last year, the lowest level since at least 2001. The trend continued into 2022, according to figures through early June of that year.
     One downtown beat cop said that prosecutors’ high threshold for approving felony charges made officers second-guess whether to engage “criminals with guns”. The beat cop said that such attitudes by prosecutors and the public “make us take a step back and think: Who really cares about us at that point? “We can only support each other at the lowest ranks,” the officer says. “And if that means going out there and not doing anything, then that means going out there and not doing anything.”
     Rank-and-file officers, sergeants and detectives also said they felt they had a target on their backs. They pointed to the consent decree, which required the city to reform its policing policies after the Justice Department found officers engaged in civil rights violations.
     Veteran cops said they used to go out of their way to make arrests when they saw suspicious activity but that they’re less likely to do so now for fear of getting into trouble and being fired or even arrested.
     “In the past, I might see a guy with a gun in his waistband, and I’d jump out and chase him,” one decorated officer says. “No way I’d do that now.” This attitude is no more than the police reacting to their feeling handcuffed while criminals and would-be criminals are not.[3]

     Let’s stop listening to those misguided voices that call for “punishing all the evil police”, “defunding the police”, and “restricting the ability of the police to do their job”. Let’s stop handcuffing our police and let’s handcuff the criminals instead! Let’s punish the few bad apples in the barrel and let’s not tar all law enforcement for the misdeeds of the few. Let’s not lose sight of who put their lives on the line every day to protect you and me from the criminals and evil doers. Let’s give law enforcement the tools and financial resources to do their job and let’s thank them for protecting us and our property.

     Defunding the police and/or limiting their ability to combat crime is a counterproductive exercise in stupidity. Taking law enforcement’s financial resources and redirecting the funds to useless “feel-good” social programs is another example of unthinking folly. Defunding the police and/or limiting their ability to combat crime is a crime in and of itself. It is a crime against the law-abiding segment of our society and a reward to criminals. The proof is in the pudding – when law enforcement is reduced, crime increases and law-abiding citizens ultimately suffer the consequences.

     Amid mounting public concern about violent crime in the United States, Americans’ attitudes about police funding in their own community have shifted significantly. By September 2021, the share of adults who said spending on policing in their area should be increased stood at 47%, up from 31% in June 2020. That included 21% who said funding for their local police should be increased a lot, up from 11% who said this a year previous.
     Support for reducing spending on police fell significantly with only 15% of adults saying spending should be decreased in 2021, down from 25% in 2020.
     Views on police funding differed widely by race and ethnicity, age and political party. White (49%) and Hispanic (46%) adults were more likely than Black (38%) or Asian (37%) adults to say spending on police in their area should be increased. Black adults (23%) were more likely to say that police funding should be decreased than those who were White (13%) or Hispanic (16%). Some 22% of Asian adults said spending should be reduced, which was statistically higher than the share among White adults but not higher than the share among Hispanic adults.
     Americans’ changing attitudes about police spending in their area have occurred amid rising public concern about violent crime. In July 2021, 61% of adults said violent crime was a very big problem in the country today, up from 48% in April 2021 and 41% in June 2020.[4]

     Until liberal judges start convicting criminals and sentencing them to appropriate prison times, the crime problem won’t go away. While the wrongdoers carry most of the blame for crime in America, overworked police who don’t have the resources to catch offenders, bleeding-heart prosecutors who won’t take cases to court, and liberal judges who won’t sentence lawbreakers are also contributing factors to the bigger problem.
     If there are no consequences to committing crimes, and there are judges who won’t sentence lawbreakers, then crime won’t stop or even slow down because there’s no reason for it to do so. If we expect police to catch criminals, then liberal judges and prosecutors can’t keep releasing them with no consequences. At some point, the police will stop worrying about catching them because the criminal will be back on the street before the police even finish the paperwork. Criminals need to be punished with more than sharp scolding from a judge.[5]

     While the Covid pandemic is now officially over, one part of American society is still reeling from the pandemic's effects – small business, especially small minority owned businesses. Those that weren't forced to shut their doors as a result of financial devastation are suffering from the double whammy of rising crime and sluggish recovery. Yet local governments seem indifferent to their plight. If governments don't open their eyes, we could see more and more businesses shut down – particularly in black and other minority communities where the businesses are desperately needed.
     Small businesses cannot recover from the pandemic if local leaders remain callous to their plight. Many city officials are hamstringing the peacekeeping efforts of police, while proactive crime prevention efforts are cast aside, allowing violent crime rates to surge. Small businesses suffer, as increasingly brazen criminals take advantage of crises, police absenteeism and criminal-coddling bleeding hearts. We've seen this time and time again. At a 7-Eleven in Stockton, California, two employees defended their store and ended up facing criminal charges for doing so.
     A number of local officials have instructed law enforcement to stand down and not use force, allowing anarchy to reign against private businesses. That is not reassuring to small business owners and their employees fearful of losing their livelihoods.
     Concerns over small businesses being vandalized, looted or even demolished are often mislabeled as "fearmongering." These concerns are generally dismissed by officials with the assertion that new businesses will simply rise from the ashes of the old. "It's all covered by insurance" was the dismissive response that many city leaders took after the 2020 riots. As a result, we have seen insurance rates rise sharply, leaving a number of businesses uninsurable in vulnerable communities lacking crime control safeguards. Many of those permanently affected include small "mom and pop" shops that will never be able to recover or reopen. The damage from crime and lockdowns is too much for many businesses to bear.
     For those that survive, the rising crime wave creates new dangers, especially in the underserved areas that need local businesses the most. Residents and businesses have begun to flee high-crime neighborhoods, leaving behind urban vacancies for criminals to fill. This lack of legitimate opportunity encourages more serious criminal activity.
     A 2015 study confirmed the success of policing strategies that actively surveyed and protected neighborhoods vulnerable to serious crime. A "problem-oriented" focus, where officers prioritized the underlying problems in a community that most likely lead to criminal behavior, produced results. These methods had an impact on reducing crime in every category.
     Local governments must learn from their past mistakes. They can do so by permitting police to do their job to protect communities. They can give their support to their police departments instead of to the lawbreakers. They can let the police handcuff the criminals and do away with foolish actions like “defunding the police” that only contribute to handcuffing the very people who are trying to protect the citizens and businesses in our communities.[6]

  1. Cops sue over rubber bullet, tear gas rules, Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: Pge. 4, 18 July 2022.
  2. Police defunded: Major cities feeling the loss of police funding as murders, other crimes soar, Stephanie Pagones, FOX NEWS, 1 April 2021.
  3. As violent crime in Chicago soared, arrests fell to historic lows, Tom Schuba, Andy Grimm, Jesse Howe and
    Andy Boyle, wbez.org, 16 July 2022.
  4. Growing share of Americans say they want more spending on police in their area, Kim Parker and Kiley Hurst,
    Pew Research Center, 26 October 2021.
  5. To Fight Crime, Punish Criminals!, Michael Letts, cns news, 6 April 2023.
  6. Minority-owned businesses suffer a second pandemic of crime as local governments handcuff the police, Stone Washington, www.enterstageright.com, August 21, 2023


  21 September 2023 {ARTICLE 593; UNDECIDED_84}    
Go back to the top of the page