Does Slashing Police Budget Affect Their Labor and Increase Crime?

By: Raziel Galarza (raziel.galarza@upr.edu)

«As it stands, the Puerto Rico Police counts with roughly 10,000 officers and with lacking resources. Most patrol vehicles are severely damaged, most headquarters are in a deteriorating state and out-of-date equipment. Even though we are limited, we will continue to enforce the law and serve our communities as best as we can», comments Lieutenant Carlos Luis on the lack of resources for the Police of Puerto Rico with the passing of a new executive order by governor, Wanda Vázquez.

In Puerto Rico, though the ‘Defund the Police’ movement has not of great impact, the Police have suffered cuts in the past. As it stands so far, a total of $25,000,000 has been cut from the Police budget in the last years, according to Lt. Carlos Luis. During the administration of Governor Alejandro García Padilla, a law was issued in which the Police retirement pension would be reduced to 25% of what officers earn now. Also, now in order to retire and receive the pensions, officers must work until the age of 55.

Officer Jovani Rosa, who has served 23 years in the force, has shared her thoughts on what has been happening in the Police headquarters she works in located in Moca, Puerto Rico.

“As of right now, the funds are not great. Only one patrol vehicle is functional per turn, which means very little options when responding to calls. Fellow officers have had to pitch in, from their salary, to cover its costs. There is also a lack of resources in order to fulfill our duties accordingly. Not to the mention as well the lack of personal, with the Police force as a whole counting with less officers this time around.”

Police Reality in the U.S.

The ‘Defund the Police’ movement, proposed by activists involved within Black Lives Matter, has become one of the most polarizing issues following the tragic death of George Floyd this past May. Across the nation, some states have followed through and approved to slash funds from the Police while others offer protection and ensure they will do no such thing.

Origins of the movement

As previously stated, ‘Defund the Police’ surges after George Floyd’s death in the state of Minnesota during a confrontation between himself and the Police.  As a result, this caused outrage throughout the United States and reaching a worldwide impact. The movement who came up with the proposal was “Black Lives Matter’, a radical cause which seeks ‘social justice’ for the black community. The initial demand consisted in ‘abolishing’ the Police, which some still agree with but not as popular of an idea as ‘defund’.

According to BLM’s co-founder, Patrisse Cullors, described herself and fellow organizers as ‘trained Marxists’, stating the movement’s ideological stance. 

With answers not very clear on what had transpired, people took to the streets to demand an answer of Mr. Floyd’s death. There was a demand for ‘social justice’ throughout the multitude, some even calling for the end of the Police. Proposals additional to defunding law enforcement, demands have been made to increase social workers in troubled areas or the formation of neighborhood watches that would substitute the Police in their local communities. 

Slashing Police Budgets 

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, for instance, the city council members approved during July 22ndof this year an amendment to move Police budget of 1.1 million dollars to the Health Department as an option to mediate violent conflicts. Now, a new proposal of a total of $8 billion dollars in cuts to their Police force. This proposal is being rebuffed by both the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey- (D), and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. Mayor Frey called the proposal as “irresponsible and untenable”, due to the increasing of violent crimes and a shrinking police force.

Police Chief Arradondo commented the following: “Crime is occurring, the shootings, the carjackings, the robberies. They are citywide, they are impacting everyone, and not just one constituency base and not just one neighborhood.” The proposal would be able to fund roughly around 770 officers, with futures plan to reduce those numbers to 750.

Minneapolis Statistics

As of early November, the following statistics have been recollected since the start of the protests and riots, with the call to ‘Defund the Police’:

·     74 homicides have been tallied this year

·     500 shootings have occurred

·     Police force consists roughly around 735 officers, with 121 in leave

Another state was has taken action in cutting Police funds is New York. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio- (D), has officially cut $1 billion and diverted that money into other programs, while still maintaining patrol strength to protect all communities. De Blasio commented on his decision with the following statement: “From reinvesting funds from the NYPD in youth programming and social services, to building new community centers, this budget prioritizes our communities most in need while keeping New Yorker safe. As we emerge from the epicenter of COVID-19, it’s now more important than ever to create a fairer city for all.»

The funds cut from the Police would be transferred into the following programs: 

  • $115 million in youth and community programs, representing approximately 100,000 slots for youth this summer 
  • Approximately 80,000 slots across COMPASS, Beacon and Cornerstone programs to provide elementary and middle school youth with safe and engaging activities this summer 
  • 35,000 slots for Summer Bridge, a career exploration and project-based learning program for teens and young adults 
  • 2,000 slots for Work, Learn and Grow, a school year employment program for high need high school youth 
  • Includes $10 million for Community Based Organizations to promote, educate, and deliver information to New Yorkers regarding test and trace and social distancing 
  • $116 million in investments in education (restoration of Fair Student Funding $100 million, Single Shepherd $11.6 million and social workers $4.8 million) 
  • $85 million in family shelter services
  • $10 million in children services
  • $39 million in health services for school children

New York City Statistics

As of December, information to the crime rates year-round of New York City has been compiled, results increasing as a result of the Police’s cut in funds.

  • 422 homicides have occurred (38.4% increase from last year)
  • 1,412 shootings (95.8% increase from last year)
  • 1,303 burglaries (41.3% increase from last year)

Chaz (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone)

During the summer, over in Seattle, Washington, anarchists took over six blocks of an abandoned police precinct, on orders of Mayor Jenny Durkin- (D). The mayor first expressed how Chaz was composed of “peaceful protesters” and a “summer of love”. However, it was completely the opposite. According to the New York Post, Seattle saw from June 2ndto the 30tha 525% increase in crime when compared to the previous year. After nearly two weeks of its running, Mayor Durkin ordered the Police to intervene and dismantle Chaz after previously stating for them not to do so. 

Crimes in Chaz:

  • 22 in person incidents, with two additional homicides
  • 6 additional robberies 
  • 16 additional aggravated assaults

Popularity of the movement

With the issue of ‘Defund the Police’ becoming more polarizing, though some states have approved cuts/defunds to the law enforcement agency, other states such as Florida have vowed to protect the Police budget. Governor Ron DeSantis- (R), stated that any municipality to cut police funds was to lose state funding.

The opinion of the people on the issue differs from those pushing for the movement. For instance, a Gallup poll was conducted from June 23rdto July 6th, which surveyed around 36,000 U.S. adults. Among the results, 61% of Black Americans said they like the amount of time Police spend in their community, and 21% wants increased Police presence. The total sums up to 81% of Black Americans how want Police in their communities, while 19% want the Police less.

Law Enforcement in Society

Overall, there is a direct correlation between Police presence and its effect on crimes. In order to have a functioning society, there must be law enforcement to protect and defend it. If there is a lack of Police presence, this incentivizes criminals to act in disorderly conduct and affect the livelihood of the people.

The argument can be made for demands of Police reform, although even those attempts have been thwarted. Senator Tim Scott- (R) from South Carolina, proposed a Police reform bill which Senate Democrats blocked the bill, saying it did not go far enough to deal with the fallout of Floyd’s death.

Raziel Galarza

Author: Raziel Galarza

Mi nombre es Raziel M. Galarza Morey. Vivo en el pueblo de Moca. Estoy en mi tercer año universitario estudiando Comunicación Tele-Radial, mi área de énfasis en Comunicación Estratégica.

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