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Forced to confront the lethal violence engulfing US cities, President Joe Biden now says he wants to refund the police, as he indicated at a meeting with Eric Adams. Astonishingly, Biden is recasting himself as a supporter of law enforcement.
But Biden’s pro-police turn won’t work. Police departments across the country have been trying for the last year to grow their ranks to fight the tidal wave of drive-by shootings that began with the George Floyd riots in 2020. They’ve failed, however, not because they lack funding, but because they face a recruitment crisis. Officers have been leaving the job in droves and telling everyone they know to not even think about becoming a cop.
Why this flight from the profession? Because of the narrative about policing promulgated by Democrats like Biden and their media allies before the #Defund movement became a political liability.
If Biden wants to reverse officer demoralization, he should retract his long record of anti-police remarks.
“Every day, African Americans go about their lives with a constant anxiety and trauma,” wondering if their loved ones would be the next victim of “bad police,” Biden said on May 29, 2020. “Imagine if you had to have that talk with your child about not asserting your rights, taking the abuse handed out to them [by police] just so they could make it home.”
After a jury convicted Officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd, Biden claimed that the Floyd arrest “ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism . . . that is a stain on our nation’s soul.” According to Biden, the “summer of protest” had sent the message: “Enough of the senseless [police] killings.”
Following a grand jury’s decision not to charge officers for murder in the death of Breonna Taylor, then-candidate Biden said during the first presidential debate: “Yes, there is a systemic injustice in this country . . . in the law enforcement.”
The theme of systemic police racism is woven into the Biden Justice Department, which has revived the Obama-era practice of probing police departments for generating racially disparate stop and arrest data. Yet such disparities in police activity are inevitable, given the vast disparities in racial rates of criminal offending and victimization.
Officers are paying attention. “Biden’s rhetoric is talked about every day,” says a veteran Chicago detective. When Biden immediately racializes police shootings, as he did after the shooting of Walter Wallace in Philadelphia and after the shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn., “cops are aware of it all over the country,” the detective tells me.
Ambush attacks on officers are up 91 percent this year, compared with the same period in 2020. Retirements were up 45 percent from April 2020 to April 2021 in 200 police departments surveyed by the Police Executive Research Forum; resignations are up 18 percent.
The Riverside, Ill., police department usually gets more than 200 applicants for its police exam; last year, it had 62 — its lowest turnout in 42 years. The Portland, Ore., Police Bureau lost more officers to retirement in August 2020 alone than in all of 2019. The Asheville, NC, police have stopped responding to low-level crimes because they have lost about a third of their staff to resignations and retirement. Seattle’s response times to the highest-priority calls have plummeted thanks to resignations by younger officers and the inability to recruit replacements.
The Bidenites’ talk of systemic police bias isn’t just dangerous, it is wrong. In 2020, police fatally shot 18 allegedly unarmed blacks (unarmed being defined extremely loosely to include suspects grabbing an officer’s gun or fleeing in a car with a loaded pistol on the seat). That represents 0.14 percent of all blacks who died of homicide in 2020 and an infinitesimal share of the 40 million blacks in the United States.
If the police ended all fatal shootings tomorrow, it would have a negligible effect on the black death-by-homicide rate, which is 13 times higher than the white death-by-homicide rate for decedents between the ages of 10 and 43.
Black people are being killed not by the police, not by whites — but by other black people. At least four dozen black children were fatally gunned down in drive-by shootings last year, not one killed by a cop.
The Democrats own this crime wave. During their presidential convention, they were silent about the riots then tearing apart US cities. More federal funding won’t solve this shooting spree, though Biden might congratulate himself for the brazen attempt to memory-hole his antipolice activism of the last year.
Heather Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of “Are Cops Racist?”
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