At a time when crime is exploding in Washington D.C., why is Sen. Chuck Schumer for defunding the Washington Metropolitan Police Department?
On April 19, by a vote of 229-189, a bipartisan group of members in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to disapprove (i.e., rejected) the adoption of the fraudulently named Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act by the D.C. City Council, a measure that would have partially defunded the Washington Metropolitan Police Department.
But Schumer, Senate majority leader, hasn’t done anything about it. If the U.S. Senate doesn’t follow the House’s lead and reject it by the end of the day on May 11, this reckless bill becomes law.
The bill is yet another attempt to enact what appears on the surface to be a vanilla police “reform” bill, when in fact it is a George Floyd police reform-type bill, which would take away critical tools that help keep police officers safe and undermine their ability to do their jobs.
By now, it should be common knowledge that defunding police departments is bad policy and where tried, has led to disastrous consequences, not the least of which is rising crime rates, attrition from police departments, and retention and recruiting problems in those police departments. By now politicians should have figured out that passing laws neutering local police departments from doing their difficult job is not only dangerous, but political hara-kiri.
But the D.C. City Council isn’t burdened with common sense.
Nor has it thought, at least until now, that its radical criminal justice and police reform ideas would be rejected by the voters, much less the U.S. Congress, which has oversight over the District since it is not, and was never designed to be, a state.
In July 2020, the D.C. City Council cut $15 million from the local police force’s budget. It lowered the police budget baseline to the point where the D.C. police force started its 2021 fiscal year (on Oct. 1, 2020) with $33 million less than the previous year.
Charles Allen, the D.C. City Council member who spearheaded the effort, admitted that his strategy was to “reduce our police force size in a responsible way by turning off the spigot.” He bragged that the budget cuts would cause police force “numbers … to drop by about 200 officers,” crowing that “this is the biggest reduction to MPD that I’ve ever seen.” All this slashing of the MPD, a majority-minority police force, was done, in Allen’s mind, for “racial justice.”
If Schumer sits on his hands and does nothing, and the City Council’s anti-police pro-criminal scheme becomes law, the bill would, among other things:
- Defund the MPD substantially.
- Prohibit the use of neck restraints by officers.
- Require officers to provide unredacted copies of body-worn camera recordings to the chair of the Committee of the D.C. City Council under a variety of circumstances.
- Empower the executive director of the Police Complaints Board to investigate abuse or misuse of police powers not alleged by a complainant.
- Expand the Use of Force Review Board.
- Limit the Use of Consent searches; establish a presumption that a search was nonconsensual if the evidence of consent is not captured on body-worn camera or provided in writing.
- Further restrict police officers’ use of deadly force.
- Restrict the purchase and use of military equipment for official duties.
Gregg Pemberton, the chairman of the D.C. police union, said at a Heritage Foundation panel event in March that the MPD force is down over 600 officers, and that it will take 10 years to make up for that deficit. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.) The MPD should have a force of about 4,000 officers, but as of February, it only had a force of 3,386, per the MPD chart below.
Pemberton argued that the size of the current force is inadequate to tackle the rising homicide rate, as depicted by the MPD chart below.
Total crime is up 27% over last year’s numbers, as depicted in the chart below. At a time when homicides are up 9%, sex abuse is up 51%, robbery is up 13%, Schumer is for defunding and hamstringing the MPD.
When you hear Schumer and other politicians talk about how they take crime, especially violent crime, seriously, watch what they do, not what they say.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal