Amid protests, Chicago's streets turned violent. 'Defund the police' critics say it's a warning.
CHICAGO - On Memorial Day weekend, Chicago experienced its most violent day in 60 years: 18 people were killed and more than 45 shot dead within 24 hours.
The tragic weekend, which took place amid massive protests against George Floyd's death in police custody in Minneapolis, was quickly picked up by several critics of the Defund the Police movement, who used the shootout as an example of when police budgets and labor are cut.
"It is incomprehensible that Democrats would respond to this trend to reduce police protection," tweeted Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
Former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., Twittered: "The Chicago police were engrossed in the demonstrations, leaving most of the city open to criminals. 'Defund the Police' is a slogan for suicide bombings by People without contact have become a reality. Ask them about the crime rate in Chicago. "
While these critics and others have pointed to Chicago as a symbol of the chaos that could result if police funding declines, experts say the claim is inaccurate and that the relationship between policing and gun violence in the city is much more nuanced.
"It is a weak argument to hold a day or weekend as an example of a broader point. It is better to compare longer periods with averages of three or five years," said Thomas Abt, researcher and senior fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice , a political institute in Washington.
BILD: Barbershop shoot in Chicago (error Antonio James / Chicago Tribune via Getty Images file)
Abbot said other factors may have led to an increase in shootings this weekend. For example, the first warm days of the season - when a lot of people are outside - are often affected by gunfire, not just in Chicago, he said.
John Hollywood, a police researcher at Rand Corp., a nonprofit think tank, said of the surge in violence: "You might have the fact that the police were distracted, but there are many other factors as well. There was a lot of pressure because people have been locked up for a long time, and social stress has been compounded by protests, riots, and riots. "
Despite the correlation highlighted by critics, the researchers argue that the idea of "defusing the police", which has been interpreted in many ways, and its effects on gun violence in Chicago are complex.
"There is a wealth of evidence that conclusively shows that more police resources and manpower reduce crime, and that is an empirical fact that we have to expect," said Max Kapustin, senior research director of the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago. "But there are also indications that other social policy measures such as investments in education, health and targeted therapeutic interventions also reduce crime."
Full coverage of George Floyd's death and protests across the country
The call to "disappoint the police" appears to be largely under the idea of rethinking public security efforts, Kapustin said.
The police are often asked about problems for which they are poorly equipped or not trained, e.g. B. to support homeless people or people with mental illness, and it is logical that experts solve these problems instead of the police, he said.
"Even if we reduce the amount of police work, we want them to do the things they do well," said Kapustin. "They will still want to act professionally and treat people fairly, and that could require more resources."
Chicago made more than $ 1.7 billion available to the police, which is about 14.5 percent of its annual budget. Los Angeles has provided a similar amount - $ 1.7 billion of its $ 10.7 billion budget - but with a million more residents than Chicago. New York City, meanwhile, provided $ 5.6 billion, or about 6 percent, of its total budget for NYPD operations.
The Chicago Police Budget accounts for nearly 40 percent of the city's general funds used for operations and services such as public security and public health. In comparison, Los Angeles spends about 26 percent of the general budget on policing.
While Chicago and Houston have similar populations, Chicago spends about $ 250 more per person on policing each year.
Police spending in Chicago has grown steadily over the past decade and has been heavily criticized by advocates of the Defund the Police movement.
"The best way to protect our communities and combat police brutality is not to spend more on the police, but instead to invest in jobs, education and health care. It's time for our city, seriously about a cut think about the police budget and direct these funds to public programs that will support the working class and poor Chicagoans, "wrote six city council members in favor of police divestment in a Chicago Sun Times published last week.
Image: Gun violence in Chicago (Ashlee Rezin / AP file)
While allocating funds to community service is beneficial in many ways, evidence has shown that public security is maintained through funding specifically for that purpose, Hollywood said.
"It isn't just that you take money from the police and then put it into community development, which isn't necessarily related to improved security. It has to be about providing security," said Hollywood.
Hollywood said that interventions to reduce violence by targeting issues such as drug use or environmental conditions usually only address these issues and tend not to reduce violence.
"What tends to reduce violence are programs and specific interventions and strategies that are specifically related to reducing violence," he said. "But that doesn't necessarily have to be the way it was done."
It can be argued to experiment with community-based partnerships and interventions that work to reduce violence, Hollywood said. "In fact, you should fund things that have proven to be more effective and move away from things that are less effective, especially if they also lead to community relationships and civil rights," he said.
Intervention programs that focus on people at high risk of being violent have been effective, he said.
The Group Violence Intervention model of the National Network for Secure Communities uses partnerships between community members, law enforcement and social service providers to connect directly with people in street groups.
The program has shown results in cities like Boston, where the shootings declined by 27 percent in 2018, according to the organization.
Alternatively, community problem-solving measures, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Cure Violence model, which uses "violent interrupters", and outreach workers, who generally act independently of law enforcement agencies, have also been effective, he said.
Iterations of these two programs were used in Chicago. According to Block Club Chicago, a local newspaper, "violent interruptions" by social service organizations this month have caused tensions between black and Latin American communities that have started violent feuds.
While other major cities like New York and Los Angeles have committed some form of divestment, the Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, who has served on police oversight committees such as the Chicago Police Board and the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, has been reluctant to accept a proposal, that would reduce the police budget.
Instead, it has focused on making so-called "brave" changes that would take various reform measures, including licensing and certification of police officers, and re-evaluation of violence logs by a task force.
"The narrative" Defund the Police "unnecessarily competes the police and municipalities for funding. It shouldn't be an either-or question. It should be an both / and question," said Abbot of the Criminal Justice Council reading the book "Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence - and a Courageous New Plan for Peace on the Streets," wrote.
"In Chicago and across the country, the police are a necessary but insufficient aspect of reducing violence," he said. "We definitely need more anti-violence programs that don't rely on the police, but we need them in addition to the police, not the police."
What needs to be checked is police violence and accountability, he said. Strengthening internal discipline, identifying questionable behavior through early warning systems and establishing accountability protocols, e.g. For example, requesting a report on every gun targeting can play a positive role in reducing excessive violence, he said.
Kapustin said that while there is no clear-cut approach to the best for Chicago, the hardest hit communities are the most critical to consider when considering policy or budget changes.
"The communities that bear the brunt of well-placed distrust and anger towards law enforcement and the judicial system are also exposed to enormous violence," he said. "You are the ones caught in the middle."
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