Crime Skyrockets After San Francisco Defunds Police
Lawmakers in San Francisco and other major cities have reversed course on promises to slash police budgets amid a dramatic increase in crime.
In 2020, shortly after the death of George Floyd, San Francisco Mayor London Breed was among the first to shift funds from law enforcement towards programs designed to assist Black Americans and drug users in the city. “We will redirect $120 million from law enforcement to support these priorities over the next two years,” said Breed. ”Let me repeat that. This is $120 million.
At the time, local media described her announcement as a “gesture of reparations for decades of city policymaking that have created or exacerbated deep inequities for San Francisco’s African American residents.”
That same year, three times as many San Francisco residents died from drug overdose than from COVID-19. Nationwide, 2020 marked the largest annual increase in murders on record with a jump of 30%.
By 2021, homicides in San Francisco were up 17% and property crime had increased by 7%. Similar increases were reported in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Oakland as police forces struggled with reduced staff and resources.
In December 20201 amid a surge in open-air drug dealing and car break-ins, Mayor Breed submitted an emergency request to the city to send more money to the police department. She also declared a state of emergency in the Tenderloin neighborhood, which reported a 161% spike in violence from 2020 to 2021.
“I’m proud this city believes in giving people second chances [but] we also need there to be accountability when someone does break the law,” said Breed. “Our compassion cannot be mistaken for weakness or indifference…I was raised by my grandmother to believe in ‘tough love,’ in keeping your house in order, and we need that.”
The situation in San Francisco was exacerbated by District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who was accused of promoting a culture of lawlessness by failing to prosecute crimes. On average, he charged just 46% of theft arrests and 35% of petty theft arrests.
Boudin’s relaxed approach to policing emboldened criminals, frustrated civilians, and contributed to decreased morale among police. Voters recalled Boudin in June and replaced him with Brooke Jenkins, who promised to “restore accountability and consequences to our criminal justice system.”
In the meantime, police departments in San Francisco and other cities continue to struggle with staffing and resources. A total of 50 police officers left the SFPD in August, bringing the total number of vacancies to 300. The department has just 10 recruits, only 8 of which are ready to work in the field.
In July, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors signed off on a police budget of just $14 million for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.
Other cities that issued emergency requests for money after ‘defunding the police’ include: New York, Los Angles, Washington DC, and Portland.