Newell: Mayors finally waking up to what cops have been saying all along

Blaming crime wave on police won't work this time

Newell Normand
July 06, 2020 - 5:45 pm
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Too many people were subjected to violence in far too many places across this country over the 4th of July weekend. Many cities are seeing levels of violence that they haven’t experienced in many years. How do we come to grips with what is actually happening?

Mayors have been advocating for defunding the police, offering fewer tools for the police to do their jobs, fewer officers, opportunities to get out of jail for free and on and on. But when we peel back the onion and look at what’s actually going on in these communities, some of these Mayors are starting to succumb and realize that what they’ve been saying is wrong. They’re finally looking at themselves in the mirror with a critical eye, because just as I predicted many weeks ago, communities of color are suffering disproportionately as a result of these anti-police attitudes.

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In Chicago, a gunman peppered a car and killed 20-month-old Sincere Gaston in his car seat. On June 20th, a man fired into the back of an SUV and hit a 27-year-old man and his 3-year-old stepson. Two other girls aged three were hospitalized. All told, 9 children under 18 have been killed since June 20th in Chicago alone. Community activists are now saying the Windy City is becoming the Bloody City. Those who defend the police are saying they need more support, not less. I agree. 

Critics say this violence shows how badly the police are failing the public, and shows how much the police are distrusted and how the funds that go to police should be transferred elsewhere to address underlying problems like unemployment, mental health and drug use. The interesting thing about that is I don’t know a single law enforcement leader that doesn’t agree that it will take a more holistic approach to address issues causing these failures in our communities. But we don’t get there by putting the cart before the horse and defunding and minimizing the police.  

Chicago Mayor Lightfoot is now making an appeal to young men, asking them to reflect on what they’re doing. She says they’re killing their own, breaking hearts in their own communities day in and day out, so how are we going to change this pattern? Haven’t police leaders been asking that question over and over and over again, of Black Lives Matter, of the clergy? Why is there not rage in the streets about the killing going on in your communities? Lightfoot is saying, “enough is enough.” 

New York saw a 205% increase in crime after NYPD disbanded their anti-crime unit. No big surprise there, and now the police commissioner there is complaining that all of the other things that have been done, not this, is what led to this situation. He says this was all going to happen before George Floyd anyway. Every one of these major city’s Mayors are making excuses, standing by while their cities crumble.

Last month was the bloodiest June in New York in 24 years. Meanwhile, NYPD officers are being shot at, spit at, having bottles thrown at them and all the rest. They arrested a subject the other day investigating a shooting and when they put him in the back of the car, dozens of people attacked them and tried to release the suspect.

Where is the leadership? When is everyone’s life going to matter, as the threats of violence go up and up?

After an 8 year old was killed in Atlanta near the former Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed, Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms said “if you want people to take us seriously and not lose this movement, we can't lose each other. You can't blame this on a police officer, you can’t say this was about criminal justice reform… we have got to stop this. We’re doing each other more harm than any police officer on this force. We’ve had over 75 shootings these past several weeks, and you can’t blame that on the Atlanta police department.” 

For years, law enforcement leaders have been talking about this. We had better wake up. You’ll recall everyone talking about the “Ferguson Effect,” the theory that increased distrust of police following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown led to an increased crime rate. Well, now they’re talking about the “Minneapolis Effect,” and it’s going to make the Ferguson Effect pale in comparison. 

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