When President Joe Biden said the “answer” to the nationwide rise in crime was to finance the police, he revived the heated debate over defending police departments.
“The answer,” Biden said in his State of the Union speech on March 1, “is not to make the police meaningless. The answer is to finance the police. Fund them with the resources and training they need to protect our community.”
At the same time, it is looking more closely at whether funding can be effective in reducing crime rates. But some advocates who spoke to ABC News continue to wonder if evading police departments and transferring funds to efforts such as mental health services and youth programs is the ideal, multifaceted way to combat rising crime.
Across the country, major cities are struggling with a staggering rise in crime rates.
For example, compared to January 2020 to January 2021, New York City saw a 38.5% increase in overall crime, and the Philadelphia homicide rate in 2022 began to exceed the dangerous, record-high number of 2021.
And as crime increases, political leaders typically focus on increasing police budgets – a Wall Street Journal report found that nearly half of the top 20 largest U.S. police justice systems have proposed increasing police funding in their 2022 budget.
However, following the racial reckoning in the summer of 2020 following the assassination of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, some called on the police to “defend”.
Advocates for police evasion say funding from the police department should be redistributed to other programs that address community issues such as poverty, housing and more.
Those who oppose police evasion say that reducing funding would make crime worse and leave police departments without the resources to do their job efficiently.
“Without the police, you will be left with … there is no line of defense between innocent people and the possibility of lawlessness,” said Jim Pascoe, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Information about police department funding
Nationally, িং 115 billion is spent annually on policing, according to the Criminal Justice Research and Policy Organization Vera.
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the lion’s share of the police fund – approximately 80% – 95% of a department’s total budget – goes to employees.
This means that most of the money goes to setting up police on the streets.
“The biggest expense of any police department is their salaries,” Pasco said. “It simply came to our notice then.
Costs also go to equipment (such as gear and patrol cars), operational costs (such as uniforms and office supplies), and funding for community programs.
Police agencies across the country have reported to the Police Executive Research Forum that recruitment has been suspended or reduced, while resignations and retirement have increased.
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
“You need money to hire people,” Pascoe said. “You need money to hire, hire, train and hire qualified people.”
Others say funding to bring the police back on the streets is worthless because hiring has become almost impossible.
Eugene O’Donnell, a former NYPD officer and lecturer at John J. College of Criminal Justice, says poor retention and recruitment rates force police to work longer hours and take on dangerous situations with less backup.
“You’re not going to simply wear people’s police uniforms, especially in places where they will be most needed. They won’t go near work now,” O’Donnell said. “People who want jobs will be scared.”
As a result, he says – the departments that provide more funding or not – expand exponentially.
Funding: Measuring which is more successful
Issues such as crime reduction, less violent or harmful police interaction, and successful community programs are some of the considerations for some experts to consider that extensive policing is a productive strategy.
But others, including Sakira Cook, senior director of the Justice Reform Program, at the Civil and Human Rights Leadership Conference, said increasing police presence and investing in funds was not the way to go.
“Over the decades, policymakers have pushed for tougher policies on crime that have not only made us safer, but have only destroyed and ruined lives – especially in the black and brown community, while spending billions upon us,” Cook said.
He says harsh-on-crime officers have often extended strict criminal codes, long prison terms and street police powers.
The University of Dayton Law Review survey found that such policies did not reduce crime rates. Research in police journals has also failed to find a link between increasing police presence and crime prevention.
A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that additional officers could translate into fewer murders – but more arrests for lower-level crime.
Hans Menos, vice president of law enforcement initiatives at the Center for Policing Equity, says the legislation and funding efforts do not address the root causes of crime – poor local infrastructure, access to community programs and services.
“I like conversations about funding and resources that talk about care, such as community development সমস্ত everything else that has been neglected in the penal system,” Menos told ABC News.
However, some departments have shifted resources and are now funding mental and behavioral health professionals who can respond to low-level calls. Proponents say it reduces pressure on the police, reduces community contact with the police and reduces the burden on the criminal justice system.
“A lot of people have started these alternative responsive programs with great success,” Menos said.
He added: “Programs that receive social services and embed them within the police department are successful because it adopts the concept of a first responder and acknowledges that it needs to be much more specialized and much more responsive to community concerns.”
How to finance and measure defunded police department
Increasing their budgets in 2021, including Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. – some of the best-financed divisions in the country – has led to an increase in violent crime. However, there have been a few major declines, such as in Wilmington, Delaware.
Several departments that have cut their budgets, including Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, have also seen an increase in crime.
Some departments who have reduced their budgets have invested in low-level or non-violent calls for mental health responders.
Many of these programs are relatively new, so long-term success is difficult to measure.
Given the complexity of the current state of policing in the United States, experts disagree that more funding or less funding is the “answer.”
“In order to make this investment in our communities, we must shrink the footprint of the criminal-legal system in our lives, reshape budgets and move resources away from criminalization and captivity toward investing in social programs and services,” Cook said.
Some feel that the way the police are operating now is not a tool for public safety.
“The job of the police is out of repair right now,” O’Donnell said. “And we’d better find other ways to protect the public.”
Some say otherwise.
“Most Americans want to feel safe in their home and in their church and in their school and in their transportation,” Pascoe said. “It sometimes takes police officers to confirm a possibility.”