In 2020, Democrats fully embraced the radical “defund the police” movement. I and many of my Republican colleagues warned against the enactment of these extreme policies. As predicted, the results have been disastrous. Crime has spiked, officers have left their jobs, and criminals now have greater control over the streets.
“Defund the police” was more than just a catchphrase for the radical left. Democratic cities across the country reduced funding for their police forces over the past two years. Minneapolis, which saw some of the year’s most violent riots, cut its police budget by $8 million. Los Angeles slashed police funding by $150 million, and New York City shrank the NYPD’s budget by $1 billion. As a result, 14 major Democrat-run cities saw their highest homicide levels on record in 2021. The upward trend has not stopped. Fox News recently analyzed data from seven major cities and found that this year, violent crimes have increased up to 40% over 2021. The increase has been particularly pronounced in New York City and Seattle, two cities that were on the leading edge of the “defund the police” movement. Though, it’s not just homicide rates that are up. Carjackings have become commonplace in many cities, and major increases in organized retail theft have left business owners struggling, frustrated, and feeling abandoned by local leaders.
Democrats are blaming everyone except their own policies for the drastic increase in violent crimes. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot blamed retailers for the smash-and-grabs, admonishing them for failing to lock down merchandise. Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed that the pandemic was the source of the crime surge, while Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) flatly denied that retail crime was increasing. And Rep. Cori Bush (D-MS), one of the first Democrats to call for defunding the police, responded to rising crime by spending over $300,000 in campaign funds for her own private security force. Regular people, though, know that Democratic policies are the source of the crime spike, and by wide margins, the public trusts Republicans to restore law and order.
I’ve seen it first-hand, having patrolled neighborhoods for many years. I know the street. I’ve lived it. Most police departments are already understaffed and underfunded. Robbing these departments of much-needed resources injures the mission to protect and serve. “Defund the police” means less training, decreased force readiness, and greater stress on officers. None of that equates to safer communities or building trust in our neighborhoods.
Democrats’ soft-on-crime policies don’t end with defunding the police, though. Ultra-liberal Democrats across America have made a platform of letting criminals off easy. This January, on the first day of his term, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg directed his office to prosecute armed robbery as a misdemeanor and said that “low-level” drug dealers should not actually be charged with dealing. Likewise, recently recalled San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin limited the use of sentencing enhancements for gang-related crimes and generally ended the prosecution of drug or gun crimes found during traffic stops. These examples reflect trends across the country, and several Democratic states have passed bail reform laws that allow dangerous criminals to walk free soon after their arrest. This is a recipe for disaster. We’ve seen it in New York after a bail reform law was passed in 2020. A New York City man committed three armed robberies within 36 hours, having been arrested and then released after all three. Another New York City man was arrested and then released 50 times in 2021 — 37 of them for robbing the same Walgreens. It’s insane.
However, Democrats are pressing ahead on these absurd and extreme policies. President Joe Biden’s recent executive order on law enforcement is dangerously misguided. Leftist career politicians are completely out of touch with law enforcement realities at the street level. Continued efforts to defund and restrict law enforcement are driving solid officers out of their chosen careers. And the border crisis, with record numbers of getaways, is yet another driving force behind rising crime rates across the country.
We cannot allow the attacks on law enforcement to continue. The public demands safe and secure communities. Police officers are the line between lawlessness and order. I will always stand with my brothers and sisters of the Thin Blue Line. I’m prayerful that America will stand with us. November is an inflection point for the future of our nation. Public safety is one of many issues that will be on the ballot. Americans will remember which party stood with law enforcement and which party stood with criminals in this time of crisis. Our nation must reject the extreme policies of the radical Left.
Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA), a former law enforcement officer and SWAT operator, represents Louisiana’s 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.