By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE SENIOR REPORTER
(The Center Square) — Three out of four Americans say defunding police departments has contributed to the rise in violent crime across the country, according to a new poll.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday found that 75% of surveyed Americans say that “the defunding of police departments” is “a reason that violent crime is increasing in the United States.”
The survey reports that 49% said defunding police was a “major reason” for the rise in violent crime while 26% said it was a “minor reason.” Only 25% said it was “not a reason” for the spike in violent crime.
Experts have echoed the point that the defund movement leads to more violent crime, saying police officers fear a lack of support from their departments if they are involved in a fatal shooting. This leads to them avoiding more dangerous neighborhoods altogether.
The poll also found that two-thirds of those surveyed believe increasing funding for police would reduce crime — a key data point as lawmakers and local officials grapple with the rising violent crime rates alongside calls to “defund the police.”
The poll asked respondents whether increasing funding for police departments ”would decrease the rate of violent crime in the United States.” Only 22% of those surveyed said it would not while the majority said it would. The poll found 36% said it would decrease crime “a lot” while 33% said more police funding would decrease crime “some.”
President Joe Biden has distanced himself from calls to defund police, a movement that took off in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020. President Biden called for hiring more police officers in June of last year to help address the rising violent crime wave, which has hit new highs in cities around the country.
Mr. Biden reiterated that commitment during a visit to New York City last week, where two law enforcement officers were recently killed in Harlem.
“The answer is not to defund the police,” President Biden said.
That sentiment, though, has not been echoed by all of Mr. Biden’s party. U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., rebuffed the president’s comments.
“My colleagues keep telling us to wait,” Rep. Bush said after President Biden’s comments. “They keep telling us defunding the police and investing in communities won’t work. Well, their policies keep ending up with police murdering black people. Enough patronizing. Listen to the movements that are telling you how to save lives.”
Rep. Bush told Axios Tuesday she would not back down from the defund police message.
“I always tell (fellow Democrats), ‘If you all had fixed this before I got here, I wouldn’t have to say these things,'” she said.
Republicans have blasted Democrats for the defund message, pointing to the crime wave and advocating for bolstering police departments to address it.
“The Biden administration is trying to blame rising crime on everything except the true causes,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., who pointed to the defunding push, immigration policy, and other issues — “(Democratic) policies that are enabling criminals and hurting police.”
Casey Harper works at The Center Square’s Washington, D.C., bureau.