When the sobering national murder statistics were released by the FBI recently, few people seemed to be taken by surprise. Everyone who follows the news knew it was going to be bad. We just weren’t sure how bad it was until the numbers showed up in black and white. It turns out that the increase in 2020 was nearly 30%, the largest the country had experienced in more than a century. We’ve seen some major increases before, such as at the start of prohibition, again in the sixties and seventies, and after the riots in Ferguson. But we’ve never measured a single-year jump of this magnitude.
As it turns out, there really wasn’t any reason for anyone to be surprised. As Jeff Sessions wrote this week in an op-ed for the New York Post, this escalation of violence in the streets was not only wholly predictable, but it was also preventable. But the people with their hands on the levers of power who could have done something to stave it off failed in their responsibilities. Even worse, they enacted policies that actually opened the door wider for all of this bloodshed. Read this excerpt carefully and let it sink in for a moment.
Responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of woke politicians. Tragically, they ignored the warnings of law-enforcement officials and abandoned policies shown to work, replacing them with naïveté and wishful thinking. The results are now clear for all to see.
Most people are familiar with “broken windows” policing: If small crimes are ignored, big crimes will follow. When this approach was implemented, along with other improved policing techniques and good legislation, violent crime dropped steadily. This was the 1980s and 1990s response to the crime spikes of the late-1960s and 1970s, and it succeeded in cutting the nation’s murder rate by more than half over the next two decades.
Then, without serious thought, law-enforcement policies that saved our cities from violence and disorder — providing safety especially for poorer and minority communities — were abandoned. Big-city mayors turned against the police, effectively telling them to cease and desist. The FBI reports that nationwide arrests fell an incredible 25 percent in 2020 alone, neatly matching the 27 percent increase in the murder rate.
Some of us have been banging on this drum and shouting from the rooftops about this for several years. The biggest drivers of the spike in murders have been the larger, blue cities where significant amounts of unrest were already being seen in 2018 and 2019. The murder rate in most rural areas remains largely unchanged, though a few places have reported more modest increases.
The cities in question largely responded to complaints about policing not by rooting out criminally misbehaving officers and replacing them, but by laying blame on their entire police forces. They instituted various forms of “police reform,” intended to make it harder to stop crime and prosecute criminals while driving career law enforcement officers from their ranks. Sessions points out Portland, Oregon as a prime example of a city that transformed a previously attractive downtown into a series of tent cities filled with drug addicts and looters. The murder rate there has more than quadrupled in a period of four years.
Minneapolis is probably the most glaring example. After seeing a similarly shocking spike in unrest and violent crime, there is still an ongoing effort to pass a referendum that would allow the City Council to abolish their police department and replace it largely with a group of social workers carrying clipboards. New York City, while not quite as bad, has similarly sought to clamp down on the NYPD while the violent crime rate soared.
How are municipal leaders not making this connection when it’s so obvious? Our society sadly contains a persistent volume of criminal actors. They are not interested in reform programs. When you open the doors to the potential for “small crimes” to take place without penalty, larger crimes follow. When you remove the fear of repercussions for criminal activity, that activity increases. And yet, here we are, listening to the same wrong-headed speeches from the woke politicians who have brought us to this point.
If only someone could have warned them. Oh… wait. That’s right. We did.