Is there a clear link between police funding and violent crimes?

Friday, June 24, 2022
By Austin Tannenbaum

Overall violent crime rates in the U.S. increased in 2020 and again in 2021, including in cities that cut their police budgets in response to the summer 2020 protests of the police killing of George Floyd.

However, experts caution against assigning causation to the budget cuts. Violent crime also increased in cities that maintained or even increased their level of police funding. USA Today cites "social unrest, rising firearm sales, economic stress and other pandemic-related factors" as other possible causes.

Examining crime rates in 26 major cities, the Justice Department concluded that "it is far more important how police are used than how many there are." Tactics such as high visibility, aggressive patrolling and community engagement produced low crime rates, whereas "increased police strength alone" failed to "make a difference."

By mid-2021, many cities that defunded their police departments voted to restore funding due to the crime spike, difficulty retaining officers and political pressures.

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