Remember all that talk of defunding the police after the George Floyd incident? As it turns out, giving police less resources doesn’t improve their performance. In Minneapolis, this was made painfully clear after the city council voted 12-0 to begin the process of disbanding the police department entirely back in June of 2020, only to settle – in another unanimous vote – for simply cutting $8 million from the budget in December. The “great idea” backfired on the left; violent crime soared, and there weren’t enough cops to answer the call when they were needed.
There’s a valuable lesson here for the people and politicians of Minneapolis, whether they learned it or not: Woke policies make for great virtue signaling – but they come with very real consequences. The council now sings a different tune and has voted – unanimously again, of course – to add $6.4 million back to the police budget to hire new officers. They’ve undone most of their former folly, but what price did the people pay for that mistake, nonetheless?
Right Questions, Wrong Answers
How can the streets be made safe from violent criminals? How can police brutality and corruption be stopped and prevented? How can the festering wound of resentment and mistrust between the people and the government be healed? These are all the right questions, but the left keeps giving the wrong answers.
Defund the police. Disband the police. To be fair, the logic is sound; there can’t be abusive cops if there aren’t any cops at all. But there are worse things lurking in the night than police officers. Much worse. In an unfortunately prophetic June 2020 article, Liberty Nation’s Tim Donner explained the gift these elite intellectuals gave their criminal contemporaries:
“The left has done this while, in typical one-step fashion, obviously not even considering the immediate, disastrous consequences of their scorched-earth proposals.
But you can bet the criminals have. And no doubt they are liking what they see. Hey, criminals are people too. They have needs. They desire the best possible working conditions like the rest of us. Who would not want a workplace free of the stress of oversight?”
We’ve Seen This Show Before
This unanimous but short-lived measure calls to mind the employee head tax from Seattle back in 2018. LN’s Andrew Moran reported in May of 2018 that Seattle planned to “make Amazon pay” with an employee head tax. For every hour worked by each employee of any company generating $20 million or more a year, the city received 26 cents. It took a whole month for the council – which voted 9-0 for the tax – to decide it was time to nix it.
The Vicious Cycle
These are just a couple of examples of how government solutions – often even to imagined problems – tend to become problems themselves, necessitating – you guessed it – more government solutions. It’s a vicious cycle.
In few examples is the cycle more vicious than in Murderapolis – an unfortunately fitting nickname, courtesy The New York Times circa 1995. From Jan. 1 to Jan. 18, 2021, rape was up 22%, robbery was up 59%, and gunshot wounds were up 250% from the same stretch in 2020. Hardly a good time to hamstring the MPD.
The Floyd riots and $8 million budget cut saw 60 officers leave the force last year. There are still 155 on medical leave – many of whom claim to suffer PTSD caused by being spread too thin and dealing with the constant war-like threat of violence thanks to the riots and general anti-cop atmosphere.
There’s an important lesson to be learned for sure – though whether the left-wing council got the message is far less certain. In any case, the price has been high these last few months, and it’s the people of Minneapolis who paid it.
Read more from James Fite.