Voters in at least four cities are headed to the polls on Tuesday to determine whether they will “defund the police” amid rising urban crime rates. These referendums come on the heels of a growing crime surge in the United States, especially in urban areas.
While ballots in Austin, Texas, are asking voters to decide on an initiative that will actually increase staffing and law enforcement funding if passed, most of the “defund the police” proposals on the ballot in Cleveland, Denver, Minneapolis, and Albany, New York use vague language such as “police reform” to mask the policies’ true intent of dismantling law enforcement departments.
Minneapolis’s proposal is by far the largest and most expansive law enforcement overhaul on the ballot. If passed, City Question Two will restructure the Minneapolis charter to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a “Department of Public Safety” managed by the leftist mayor or a possibly more progressive replacement and the City Council. The Department of Public Safety would be staffed by mental health and social workers who would take a “comprehensive public health approach” to fighting crime and only include traditional police officers “if necessary.”
While some cities such as Los Angeles got away with defunding the police after referendums during the 2020 election, public support for pulling funding from law enforcement is down across the board. In Minneapolis, 55 percent of voters said they don’t support reducing the police force in the city.
A poll from the Pew Research Center published last week indicated that a rising number of Americans in general, 47 percent, actually want police spending in their areas to increase. That number is up 16 points from the beginning of the summer of rage in June 2020. Twenty-one percent of those who said they support funding hikes said the law enforcement spending should go up “a lot,” citing concerns about rising crime. Even 34 percent of Democrats admitted they wanted more funding for police moving forward.
Even some cities that don’t have specific referendums or proposals to yank money from law enforcement are set to vote on whether they will elect a mayor who supports “defunding the police.” In Boston, Atlanta, New York City, and Buffalo, New York, voters must choose between supporting a Democrat mayor who plans to rally around defunding the police in the name of racial justice or a Democrat mayor who has estranged themselves from the progressive policy.
Democrat mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George in Boston has openly supported adding hundreds of officers to the city’s police force to combat crime, but her progressive opponent Michelle Wu has already debuted a “public safety plan” that prohibits trained law enforcement officers from certain duties and hands them to “unarmed civilian personnel.”