Police defunded: Major cities feeling the loss of police funding as murders, other crimes soar

Police defunded: Major cities feeling the loss of police funding as murders, other crimes soar


Cities in parts of the U.S. that slashed their police department funding last year, in part as a result of police-involved shootings, have seen an uptick in certain crimes over the past year, data analyzed by Fox News shows.

Cities such as Austin, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City and Portland, Ore., have shifted funds from police departments to social services programs. Such cuts have led some departments to lay off officers, cancel recruiting classes or retreat from hiring goals.

As police departments were left to make do with shrunken budgets and less support, some big cities have seen sometimes drastic upticks in murders and other violent crimes, a Fox News crime analysis found. 

The “defund the police” movement is not necessarily about gutting police department budgets — though some groups have tried. And budget cuts were already expected as a result of alternate needs for funding because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s a look at how some of the cities have fared in terms of crime numbers from when the respective budget cuts took effect through the present day.  

MINNEAPOLIS

Violent crime rates surged in 2020 after the May death of George Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed and pleading while Derek Chauvin, a White former Minneapolis police officer, pressed his knee against his neck for more than nine minutes, as seen on moments captured on video. Chauvin is currently standing trial on murder and manslaughter charges.

Between Dec. 11, 2020, and March 28 of this year, murders in the city rose 46% – to 19 – compared to the 13 reported during the same time period last year, statistics show.

And going back further, there have been 49% more homicides since the initial budget cut in July 2020 – 58 murders between July 22, 2020, and March 28, compared to the 39 reported year-over-year.

Total violent crime in Minneapolis between July 22, 2020, and March 28 was also up 22% year-over-year – 3,692 this year compared to the 3,025 last year; the violent summer months appear to have caused such a significant increase, an analysis of Minneapolis Police Department statistics show.

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The effort to defund police is largely seen as being sparked by Floyd’s May 2020 death and the protests and civil unrest that followed.

In December, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a budget that shifted approximately $8 million from the police department toward violence prevention and other programs. The cuts did not affect staffing level goals for sworn officers after Mayor Jacob Frey threatened to veto the budget if the council capped police staffing as it had originally intended.

The plan redirected the nearly $8 million from Frey’s $179 million policing budget to mental health teams, violence prevention programs and other initiatives.

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And months earlier, in July, it diverted $1.1 million from the department’s $193 million budget to the Office of Violence Prevention for an outreach program geared toward those at high risk for gun violence.

But both are a far cry from the efforts of at least one group, MPD150, which said it was “working towards a police-free Minneapolis.” The group pushed for “strategically reallocating resources, funding, and responsibility away from police and toward community-based models of safety, support, and prevention.”

In June, a majority of Minneapolis City Council members said they supported disbanding the police department. 

PORTLAND, OREGON

In Portland, records show that murders more than tripled year-over-year.

Police statistics from July 2020, when the city’s budget cuts were made, and this past February — the most recent data available — show homicides skyrocketed 270.6% compared to the same time last year.

There were 63 homicide offenses reported from July 2020 through Feb. 2021, but only 17 recorded from July 2019 through Feb. 2020, police data show.

In the first two months of 2021 alone, Portland reported 17 murders — a 1,600% increase from the single murder reported during the first two months of 2020, Portland Police Bureau statistics show.

But the city also received fewer reports of assault offenses during the same time period compared to last year, records show. There were 5,767 assaults reported from July 2020 through February of this year — down 6.4% from the 6,159 assaults recorded from July 2019 through February 2020, statistics show.

The past year, 2020, was the deadliest in the city in more than a quarter-century.

City commissioners voted in mid-June to cut nearly $16 million from the police budget in response to concerns about use of force and racial injustice.

The money saved by eliminating a gun reduction violence team, school resource officers and transit division will be redirected to social service programs.

It fell short of some protesters’ demanded cuts of $50 million for police.

Earlier this month, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler sought $2 million in one-time funding for police, other agencies and outreach programs to try to stem rampant gun violence in the city.

As of March 8 – just days before Wheeler announced his efforts – there were 278 shootings in the Portland region, with 58 people injured from shootings and 17 gun-related homicides, the mayor’s office told The Associated Press.

Policing has gone through changes in the past year, as protesters and rioters for eight months marched in Portland streets demanding change and an end to systemic racism. The unrest was often violent and destructive and, in many instances, targeted law enforcement officers and facilities.

NEW YORK CITY

Murders in New York City are up 11.8% year-to-date as of March 21, with 76 reported this year compared to the 68 from 2020, according to NYPD crime statistics.

The number of shootings rose 40.1% in 2021, with 220 reported as of March 21 compared to the 157 recorded shootings during the same time last year. Meanwhile, the number of shooting victims during that time period jumped 39%, from 177 in 2020 to 246 in 2021, police data shows.

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The New York City Council voted in July to move $1 billion away from the NYPD’s budget and instead move the money to education and social services in 2021. But protesters – who had been camped outside City Hall for days, if not weeks, at the time – and some lawmakers said the billion-dollar reduction was merely shifting police functions and did not go far enough.

Cuts came from canceling a nearly 1,200-person police recruiting class for over the summer, halving overtime spending, redeploying officers from administrative functions to patrol and ending police responsibility for school crossing guards and homeless outreach. The police department gave up control over public school security.

LOS ANGELES

While Fox News could not immediately find a month-by-month breakdown in crime statistics, the LAPD reported a 38% increase in murders in 2020, despite the coronavirus mandates that kept residents indoors.

And for 2021, murders are up 28.3% as of March 13, with 77 killings reported this year to date compared to the 60 reported during the same time in 2020, statistics show. The number of shooting victims nearly doubled, from 157 reported through March 13, 2020, compared to this year’s 303.

Aggravated assaults were also up 8.4% during this time, from 3,395 to 3,132, statistics show.

A significant decrease in the number of rapes and robberies offset those upticks. Records indicate total violent crimes as of March 13 were down 1.4% year over year.

City leaders voted in July to cut the Los Angeles Police Department budget by $150 million, reducing the number of officers to a level not seen for more than a decade.

About two-thirds of the funding was earmarked for police overtime and was instead used to provide services and programs for communities of color, including a youth summer jobs program. The City Council’s 12-2 vote will drop the number of officers from 9,988 as of June 2020 to 9,757 by summer 2021, abandoning a goal of 10,000 officers touted by political leaders and only reached in 2013.

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The LAPD cut was part of a budget modification measure for the fiscal year that began July 1 and came amid the coronavirus pandemic. Months of social distancing measures, including closing many businesses, left the city with a drastically reduced tax revenue and a potential shortfall of $45 million to $409 million, according to finance department estimates obtained by The Associated Press.

AUSTIN

As of February 2021, the most recently available data showed there were 11 murders year-to-date in Austin compared to the 10 reported during the same time last year, statistics show. Meanwhile, aggravated assault reports were up 26%, from 415 reported year-to-date in 2020 compared to the 524 so far this year.

In total, the city’s reported “crimes against persons” decreased 4% this year through February, compared to the same time frame in 2020.

A month-by-month breakdown in crime statistics was not immediately available.

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In August, Austin City Council unanimously voted to cut roughly one-third of the city’s $434 million police budget, slashing just over $150 million. The funds were designated to be redirected to social services in the 2021 fiscal budget, which started Oct. 1, 2020.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said during a press conference at the time that the budget cuts and plans to re-imagine the city’s policing would lead to changes unlike anything he had seen in his 30 years of working at the police department.

The cuts eliminated about 150 open jobs, putting staffing levels the same as in 2015, Manley said at the time. Three cadet classes were also delayed, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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