Murders Rose 56 Percent in Major US Cities Amid Defunding Push: Report

April 16, 2021 Updated: April 16, 2021

Murders spiked in major American cities since the death of George Floyd amid a push to slash police funding, according to a new analysis.

The rise in homicides in 10 major cities last year coincided with police making fewer arrests and stops, the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund found.

In Chicago, for example, arrests and stops dropped by 53 percent while murders rose 65 percent, when comparing June 2019 through February 2020 and June 2020 through February 2021.

In Minneapolis during the same time period, arrests and stops decreased by 42 percent while murders increased 64 percent.

Chicago cut approximately $59 million from police in its 2021 budget, largely by axing vacant positions in the force. Minneapolis, which slashed $7.8 million from its police department in December 2020, approved an infusion of money a month prior and backed away from one proposal to decrease the number of police officers and another to entirely dismantle the department.

The Chicago and Minneapolis police departments did not respond to inquiries.

“This data confirms that in places where law enforcement saw the most resistance from community leaders and calls for less policing, we saw more homicides,” Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement.

“Progressive prosecutors made it clear that making arrests for drug and weapons crimes that will go unprosecuted only exposes officers to the risk of disciplinary action, lawsuits, and criminal prosecution. So, to mitigate that risk, police took a more passive approach,” he added.

The fund says its mission is to support and defend law enforcement officers and the law enforcement profession while educating the public about risks and threats to officers.

After Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death, activists in a slew of cities pressured officials to cut police funding. Officials in Portland, Los Angeles, and New York City, among other urban areas, ultimately did so. All three saw major homicide increases last year, along with many other urban areas.

Epoch Times Photo
Police take back the streets at around midnight after firing copious amounts of tear gas to disperse protesters and rioters outside the Minneapolis Police 5th Precinct during the fourth night of protests and violence following the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 29, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Experts told The Epoch Times that the increase was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and conditions it spurred, along with the push to defund the police and the resulting demoralization among officers.

“There was a lot of cities where police were defunded or threatened to be defunded, or threatened to have their ability to carry out their duties be curtailed or cut back. And so, with the disengagement of police, either because they’ve been defunded or because they’ve disengaged because of the pressure on them, that allows an opportunity for violent crime to happen often,” Kenneth Gray, a senior lecturer at the University of New Haven’s Criminal Justice Department, said in a previous interview.

“So that’s why you see in some cities where violence has occurred in protest against the George Floyd death, you’ve seen an increase in the murder rate in those cities.”

Officials in Seattle, which saw an increase by 19 to 50 homicides last year, sounded a similar theme.

Defunding “increases crime and increases the fear of crime,” Jim Fuda, law enforcement director of Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound, told The Epoch Times.

Tio Hardiman, CEO of Violence Interrupters, which seeks to prevent violence before it happens, offered a different view as he noted that Chicago spent $81 million on police overtime in 2020, but murders still rose.

“I’m not against the police but the reality is that police has not been trying to stop killings on the front end. Police have been trained to get involved once a person crosses the line and breaks the law,” he said. “And when it comes to violence prevention, we need highly trained individuals that know how to intercept whispers on the street level in order to stop the killing on the front end.”

Echo Liu contributed to this report.

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