The Deadly Consequences of Defund the Police
The role of the police force in the United States is hotly debated, and many liberal activists are calling for police funding to be reduced. Although advocates of defusing the police have failed to win over the general public, the political climate in certain democratic cities, coupled with budget constraints imposed by COVID-19, has already succeeded in overtaking the ranks of police departments in some parts of the United States to reduce the land. In Minneapolis, the epicenter of last year’s protests and riots, over 100 officers left the ranks of the city police, “more than double the number in a typical year.” In Seattle, another center of protests last year, the level of police wear and tear is “unprecedented”. The long-term effects of police reductions in these specific cities are currently unclear. However, a study published in the Justice Evaluation Journal in December offers some evidence that rapid exhaustion of a city’s police force can, under certain circumstances, be fatal. Eric Piza of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at CUNY and Vijay Chillar of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University examined police layoffs against the backdrop of the great 2008-09 recession. “There is a large body of research that has looked at the relationship between police size and crime, but most of them have analyzed the effects of incremental changes in the number of officers,” Piza told me about why he conducted the research . “Big changes like those that occur with layoffs have not been analyzed before. We therefore felt that there was a need to investigate the effects of large, sudden reductions in police force on the ground. “During this period, New Jersey’s two largest cities, Newark and Jersey City, experienced heavy budgetary burdens as a result of the economic downturn. Both cities considered major police layoffs in response. In Jersey City, the local police union and city officials reached an agreement that prevented layoffs. In Newark, labor management negotiations were not as successful, leading to the sacking of 167 recently recruited officials, representing a combined total of 13 percent of the armed forces. Piza and Chillar used the Jersey City and Newark examples as a natural experiment to study their crime rates between 2006 and 2015 and to study the impact of the Newark layoffs on crime levels. While no natural experiment is perfect, the similarities between the two cities made them comparable for the purposes of the study. In their paper, the researchers find that “Newark and Jersey City, being the two largest cities in New Jersey, are more similar to each other than any other town in the state in terms of police size, pre-firing resources, and crime levels. “They found that both property and violent crime rates continued to decline throughout the period they studied in Jersey City. However, in Newark, violent crime rates rose after the layoffs. Using statistical models, Piza and Chillar estimate that it was “About 108” were … additional incidents of violent crime per month as a result of the layoffs, “and there were an additional 103 incidents of property crime each month. A possible culprit for the increase in crime after the layoffs was the Newark Police Department (NPD ) to limit the use of hot-spot policing, where officials were tasked with proactively monitoring the city’s crime hotspots for most of their shifts. From 2006 to 2009, hotspot surveillance was a key feature of the division’s activities , but budget constraints and layoffs forced the NPD to use this form of To stop policing as staff was needed elsewhere. It is also possible that the sudden and dramatic decline in the number of police officers affected the morale of the armed forces and contributed to a decrease in the quality of policing. Piza and Chillar point to a 2018 study that found that teacher layoffs in Washington state resulted in lower teacher productivity. Whatever the reason, the study clearly shows a link between layoffs and an increase in crime in Newark that has not occurred in Jersey City in a similar location. Piza advised caution when it came to drawing greater lessons from the study, suggesting that layoffs may not necessarily lead to higher crime rates if carried out more strategically in order for departments to continue their functioning crime-fighting practices. “The layoffs were not part of any major public safety reform that is taking place,” he told me. “Even so, I don’t think that reducing police forces automatically leads to more crime as long as the police cuts are complemented by resources that can help maintain evidence-based crime-fighting practices.” However, it is unclear whether the cuts we are seeing across the country are being made in a reasonable environment or whether they are a jerky response to the political moment taking place across the country. For example, we know that Austin, Texas cut a third of its police budget and New York City disbanded a civilian anti-crime unit. These cuts come at a time when many American cities have seen massive increases in killings and shootings. Some places, like Wilmington, Delaware, had record killings in the past year. Long one of the most violent places in America, St. Louis, Mo., had the highest death rate in 50 years. Since the advent of smartphones and social media, we have all been aware of unjustified police violence and brutality. However, we should contextualize all policies we take and carefully weigh the costs and benefits. The study by Piza and Chillar shows that a severe and sudden downsizing of the police force can have catastrophic consequences for a community, leading to a more unnecessary death.