Violent crime went up in the majority of major U.S. cities in 2021 when police budgets were slashed, while crime went down when budgets went up, according to FBI data reviewed by the Washington Examiner.
A review of violent crime data for the top 30 most populated cities in the United States from the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Reporting Program were compared with data on police budgets in 2020 and 2021 in the same cities.
There was a negative correlation between the number of violent crime incidents per city and whether that city increased or decreased its police department budget in 2021.
In several of the top 30 cities, funding for police departments was cut after 2020 due to social unrest in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement began in June 2020 after police killed an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In the majority of cities where funding was cut, violent crime incidents increased.
In 2021, Portland, Oregon, saw an increase of almost 40% in violent crime. Seattle saw an increase of more than 20%.
However, not all cities that faced calls to limit law enforcement’s influence in 2020 reduced their police budgets.
In the majority of the top 30 cities where police departments received more funding in 2021, violent crime incidents decreased.
In cities such as Las Vegas and Indianapolis, police received more funding, and crime decreased by more than 10%.
There were cities that did not follow the pattern, such as Philadelphia, which decreased its police budget and still saw a 2% decrease in crime. Seven other top 30 cities also did not conform to the pattern.
Rising crime rates around the country are a major issue on the ballot this year. In San Francisco, District Attorney Chesa Boudin was removed from office in a recall election due to rising crime in the city. Many claimed the 2022 spike in crime was a result of Boudin’s policy changes, such as ending cash bail.
Recently, many liberal politicians have even campaigned on the importance of supporting police, such as New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV). Several cities that cut police budgets in 2021 due to public pressure have either restored or increased police budgets in response to spikes in crime.
Politicians who embraced calls to defund the police during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, such as Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), have since tried to walk back their statements.
Similarly, Democrats who have tried to distance themselves from Biden this election cycle, such as Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), have stated that they do not support defunding the police. The GOP has remained on the offensive against many Democratic candidates for their “soft-on-crime” records for months now.
With voters set to go to the polls Tuesday, the issue of crime will play a major factor in who they cast their ballot for and could significantly alter existing policies on crime in states around the country.
It should be noted that, for 2021, the FBI switched over from the Summary Reporting System to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, or NIBRS, which “goes much deeper because of its ability to provide circumstances and context for crimes like location, time of day, and whether the incident was cleared,” according to the agency.
Under the NIBRS, law enforcement officers can also record all violent crime offenses, even those that occur within the same incident. The previous system followed the hierarchy rule, only recording the worst offense within a single incident.
Due to the changeover, multiple jurisdictions, most notably New York City and Los Angeles, the two largest cities in the U.S., did not submit a year’s worth of comprehensive NIBRS-level data by the FBI’s deadline of Jan. 1, 2021.
Therefore, the Washington Examiner independently verified the number of violent crimes reported in 2021 for the following cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Jose, California, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Data were not available for the number of violent crime incidents in Baltimore, Maryland, and Jacksonville, Florida. The Washington Examiner submitted public records requests for both cities but had not received the requested records from either city at the time of publication.