Recent reporting from The Grio and The New York Times has outlined an eye-opening trend around the United States of America. More than one year after protesters called for the defunding of police departments and reimagined public safety systems, it appears that many cities are increasing budgets for local officers.
A number of cities across the country are experiencing an increased level of violence. In response, many local leaders are boosting the budgets of nearby police departments. As reported by The Grio, the "Big Apple" allocated an additional $200 million for the New York Police Department in June. In Los Angeles, the police department's budget was given a 3% boost. Even in smaller cities like Burlington, Vermont, an additional $1 million was allocated for officers. Most notably, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson recently approved a $4.4 billion police budget and hired 250 more cops.
“Dallas stands out for the amount of investment that the local government is putting into the department," Major Cities Chiefs Association Executive Director Laura Cooper told The New York Times during an interview at Dallas City Hall.
"As an African American male who came of age in the 1990s, I remember a lot of people whose lives were devastated by violence. I don’t want to go back there.”
Reports indicate that increased budgets will support training, hiring officers and implementing "hot spot" policing strategies. "Hot spot" strategies typically include an increased police presence in areas that have high crime rates. With "rising levels of crime" appearing in several cities, police proponents feel that this will help reduce crime. However, others question if increased budgets and "hot spot" policing will work.
Within the last two years, there has been an elevated effort to answer the following two questions:
- Does increasing police budgets lead to less crime?
- Does increasing the number of police officers in an area lead to less crime?
Last year, Washington Post National Correspondent Phillip Bump examined data regarding police funding provided by the U.S. Department of Justice. After looking at data from 1960 through the last decade, Bump found that there is relatively "no correlation" between spending and serious crime reduction.
Meanwhile, Morgan Williams, an economist at NYU's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, looked at the connection between the number of police officers in an area and crime rates. After examining data from more than 200 cities and the FBI, Williams and his colleagues concluded that "the average city would need to hire between 10 and 17 new police officers to save one life a year." Ultimately, this commitment would cost taxpayers anywhere between $1.3 and $2.2 million.
In short, there is no definitive answer to solving violent crimes in cities. Unfortunately, Black and brown people in marginalized communities typically pay the price while local officials trot out different remedies.