When did it become a polarizing, political statement to say that one “backs the blue?” Tragedy has caused our culture to spiral into an intense anti-police mindset that has demoralized and dehumanized our good and honorable men and women in uniform. With chants of “defund the police” come consequences that will only hurt the American way of life. Upholding the rule of law is one of the most basic tenets of American government. Without it, our government doesn’t function, and our society slips into chaos.
In cities where police budgets plummet, crime rates have surged. Minneapolis, for example, successfully voted to dismantle the city’s police department, and violent crime skyrocketed. Homicides were up 49%, and total violent crime rose 22%. Predictably, the city soon approved spending $6.4 million to hire more police recruits.
In Portland, Oregon, 80% of the city’s homicides occurred after the city cut the police department’s budget by $16 million. Between the funding cuts and resignations, the Portland Police Bureau lost nearly 200 officers in a matter of months. The Mayor of Portland attempted to fix the problem with a $2 million in emergency police funding grant, but it was blocked by the City Council.
These anecdotes are not unique, and I fear the trend will continue. When cities try to score political points at the expense of their police departments, their citizens suffer. These policy changes have not had the effect that I am sure Democrats were hoping for. According to the National Sport Shooting Foundation, more guns were sold in the first quarter of 2021 than at any point since 1999. Without police protection, people simply do not feel safe and are taking matters into their own hands.
Police officers deserve respect. For many officers, their jobs are labors of love. They run toward danger while everyone else runs away. They have seen horrors the rest of us can only imagine, just to show up to work the next day and do it again. It may seem fine for their departments to be defunded, until you and your family are the ones in need of help. Of course, that does not mean we shouldn’t hold police accountable for their actions. As the adage goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
While we hold bad cops accountable for their actions, we must uplift the hundreds of thousands of officers in our communities who do their jobs well. I implore my fellow Americans to remember police officers’ and their families’ daily sacrifices to keep us safe. Our police departments’ successes are our successes.
Bruce Westerman is a U.S. Congressman representing the 4th District of Arkansas. He is a Republican.