By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Some law enforcement groups and police experts are blaming rising violent crime on a “toxic trio,” pointing the finger at anti-police rhetoric, lax prosecutors and the “defund the police” movement.
“Defaming and defunding police has cops running for exits, as violence surges and we need them now more than ever,” said Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. “This should be a wake-up call.”
The comments come after recently released FBI crime statistics showed homicides increased in 2021, despite the fact that 2020 was a record-high year. Rape also increased, and vehicle thefts have risen more than 20% since 2019. Murder is up nearly 40% since 2019, the most significant increase since crime statistics of this kind have been tracked.
“This report confirms there are two inextricably like public safety crises happening,” Mr. Johnson said. “Crime, especially murder, has risen precipitously since the summer of 2020 while law enforcement has been demoralized, debilitated, and in some cases defunded. Homicides are up almost 40% since 2019, while most large police departments are hemorrhaging officers.”
Recent polling shows crime is a top issue for voters. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released last month showed that 69% named crime as a “highly important” issue, more than abortion, immigration or climate change. At the same time, voters favor Republicans’ handling of crime by 14 points, according to the poll.
Cully Stimson, a former prosecutor and legal expert at the Heritage Foundation, said that “this narrative that crime rose as a result of the pandemic is just baloney.”
“It’s important to put this in the bigger context,” he said. “The last crime spike in our country ended 1992, 93 and since then we have had a 30-year serious decline in violent crimes and crime in general. And because incarceration always trails behind crime rates, either rising or falling, incarceration rates have been dropping dramatically since 2007, 2008.”
Mr. Stimson pointed to a recent shift fueled largely by discouraging police and empowering “rogue prosecutors” who are much more lax, often refusing to prosecute entire categories of crimes.
“But what we’ve seen since about 2015 … two things started happening,” Mr. Stimson said. “The first, [George] Soros bought-and-paid-for prosecutor Kim Foxx was elected in Chicago and then you saw after the George Floyd murder and other notorious police-involved shootings crime in those cities start to go up. And every major city that has elected a Soros bought-and-paid-for rogue prosecutor, crime has exploded. And not coincidentally, those cities are often the same cities … are also ‘defund the police’ cities.”
Mr. Stimson pointed to the “toxic trio.”
“So what I’ve called this is the toxic trio of rogue prosecutors, defund the police and demoralize the police because in some instances they don’t defund police, they only threaten to defund the police or discredit the police,” he said. “And when city officials or public officials don’t have the backs of the police, the criminal element does feel emboldened…”
President Biden has pushed back on claims that Democratic policies have fueled rising crime, arguing Republicans are the ones who want to defund police, though that claim was met with widespread pushback. The “Defund the Police” message has been carried almost entirely by Democratic leaders at the federal and local levels.
The FBI crime data this year is less reliable than in years past because it omits multiple major cities as they transition to a new reporting system.