Last summer, the city of Los Angeles announced it would cut $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) budget, reallocating the money to social services. A year later, the city is reversing course amid a rise in crime and shootings.
Los Angeles lawmakers agreed to increase the LAPD budget to hire about 250 more officers, essentially erasing the budget cuts that were made last year. Murders in L.A. rose 36% in 2020 according to the New York Times as the city has seen a rise in guns.
Last summer, police departments across the country cut their police budgets and reallocated the resources to mental health assistance, addressing homelessness, drug addiction, internet, and education initiatives.
According to Vox, the U.S. murder rate increased by 25% or more nationwide last year. That amounts to more than 20,000 murders in a year for the first time since 1995, an increase of about 4,000 murders from 2019. Aggravated assaults and gun assaults also increased, although crime overall fell.
The rise in gun violence is pushing liberal cities and states to reverse pledges to reallocate police funding to address substance abuse, homelessness, and mental health services.
LAPD officials blame the rise in gun violence on two things: A historic rise in the purchase of guns, including ghost guns, which are often assembled with parts bought online and are untraceable. The second factor is the pandemic, which led to massive job cuts, evictions, and has forced even the most affluent of families into poverty.
The pandemic has also cut off a vital part of the effort to reduce gun violence, gang intervention groups that go into hospitals after shootings to gather information and prevent retaliation. With the pandemic closing hospitals to visitors, those conversations have become harder to have.
Others say the conversation and change in the perception of police officers since 2016, when former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee, has led prospective officers to choose other professions. Departments across the country have seen a drop in applications. City Journal reported in February, 86% of police chiefs nationwide have reported a shortage of officers.
Those same perceptions have also forced many officers to retire or quit in metro areas. Police departments nationwide are dealing with a significant rise in retirements and resignations. The LAPD, NYPD, Chicago Police, and other metro departments have seen a large number of officers leaving the force.