Dem-run cities see police forces shrink as crime rages on

By Around the Web

Robert Schmad
Daily Caller News Foundation

Some of the largest Democrat-run cities in the country saw their police forces shrink as they grappled with persistently high homicide rates following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis of Census Bureau data.

New York City, Los Angeles, Portland, Austin and Washington, D.C., all run by Democrats, collectively had about 1,500 fewer law enforcement officers on staff in 2023 than they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a DCNF analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2019 and 2023 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll.

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Police departments shrunk in these cities as they failed to reverse the spike in homicide rates coinciding both with the COVID-19 pandemic and with the wave of racial justice movements seeking to reform law enforcement that cropped up following the death of George Floyd.

Portland, for instance, had a homicide rate of 13.2 per 100,000 residents as of 2023, an almost 140% increase from its pre-pandemic rate of 5.5 per 100,000, according to Census and city data. Concurrent with the increase in murder rates, the number of police officers in Portland shrunk by 183 between 2019 and 2023, falling from 911 to just 728.

Portland, under pressure from racial justice activists in 2020, slashed police funding by $15 million and eliminated funding for 84 police officer positions, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. Following the cuts, homicides in Portland jumped by 83%, which was among the highest of any major city that year, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler supported law enforcement cuts at the time but, less than a year later, he reversed course and attempted to restore some funding to Portland’s police department.

As crime remains persistently high, many are opting to leave Portland, with the city losing over 4,000 residents between July 2022 and July 2023, according to the Census Bureau.

D.C. also bent the knee to racial justice activists in 2020, likewise reducing its budget by $15 million, according to local outlets. D.C. had 113 fewer officers on payroll in 2023 than it did in 2019, according to Census data.

D.C.’s city council was controlled by Democrats at the time of the budget cuts.

The homicide rate in the nation’s capital, meanwhile, was 72% higher in 2023 than it was in 2019, rising from 23.5 murders per 100,000 residents to 40.4 murders per 100,000, according to police and Census data.

Democratic D.C. Councilman Charles Allen, who led the effort to cut police funding in the city, is the target of a recall campaign, with critics arguing his approach to public safety helped lead to the increase in violent crime.

New York City, which has the largest police department in the country, lost 843 officers between 2019 and 2023, according to Census data. New York, like Portland and D.C., has also failed to bring its homicide rate below pre-pandemic levels.

New York’s homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants remains 23% higher than it was in 2019, according to municipal and Census data. The New York Police Department (NYPD) is understaffed, which is creating concerns for public safety, the NYC Police Benevolent Association said in March.

Months earlier, in January, Democratic Mayor Eric Adams rolled back plans to cut funding to the NYPD, the New York Post reported.

Los Angeles, which also has one of the largest police departments in the country, saw its force shrink by 242 members between 2019 and 2023, according to Census figures. The homicide rate in the city, meanwhile, was 32% higher in 2023 than it was in 2019, per city and census data.

Many Los Angeles residents are discontent with the state of law enforcement in their city, with 51% of voters saying in a February poll that they disapprove of the job Democratic District Attorney George Gascón is doing.

Austin, which lost 104 police officers between 2019 and 2023, saw its homicide rate jumping by 76% during that period, Census and municipal shows. The city cut its police budget by roughly a third in 2020, the Texas Tribune reported.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent in state police to aid Austin as it faced a police staffing shortage in March 2023, according to the Texas Tribune. City leaders pushed to end that partnership after data showed state police were disproportionately arresting Black and Hispanic residents with state police eventually pulling out in December 2023, according to Texas Public Radio.

The mayor’s offices in each of these cities did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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