If The Crime Rate Goes Down After Half A Cop Shop Quits, What Are We Even Paying For?

from the not-exactly-the-ROI-promised-by-bootlickers dept

Law enforcement agencies often command an outsized portion of city and county budgets. The argument for this expenditure is basically just Blue Line bullshit: without the police at full staff, surely every locality will descend into criminal anarchy.

That’s the argument but the facts don’t bear it out. There’s very little evidence that increased law enforcement spending results in lower crime rates. And when local law enforcement has abused the privilege to the point that an officer has been jailed for murder and the DOJ is moving towards securing a consent decree, it helps to ask what exactly we’re paying for.

Some of the most well-funded police departments in the nation are also the ones that are costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year to settle civil rights lawsuits if not actually spending even more tax dollars attempting to be less terrible in order to comply with consent decrees following DOJ investigations.

The Minneapolis PD managed to secure the attention of an entire nation after Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on a black man’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, handing out a highly symbolic death sentence to someone only suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

This led to nationwide protests, with the most vehement occurring in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The city burned. So did a police station. The DOJ opened an investigation into the Minneapolis PD. The DOJ’s findings showed a pattern and practice of civil rights abuse, turning Chauvin’s murder of a Minneapolis resident from an anomaly to an inevitability.

In response to nationwide protests against police violence, cops walked off the job. Some refused to perform their duties, despite being paid. Others were a bit more intellectually honest. They retired. In many cases, the retirement kickstarted a pension ensuring they’d never need to work again. But for other cops, the private sector suddenly seemed like a better deal, even though the private sector tends to demand far more accountability than the public sector.

Cop officials claimed the mass exodus of inadequate cops would embolden criminals. Not that anyone believed them. Law enforcement officials say the same thing about reform efforts, public records laws, DOJ consent decrees, and negative press. Basically, anything that doesn’t absolutely worship the ground cops walk on is treated like an invitation to anarchy.

But that’s all bullshit. Cops can’t be trusted to do their jobs competently. Cop officials can’t be trusted to get their facts straight. And, as this article by Radley Balko for the New York Times shows, a mass exodus of officers can’t even guarantee a spike in lawlessness.

The typical Golden Valley police officer makes a six-figure salary with good benefits. The city has almost no violent crime. It’s a good gig. Yet in just two years, more than half the department quit.

“I haven’t been on the job long enough to make any significant changes,” Chief Green said. “Yet we’re losing officers left and right. It’s hard not to think that they just don’t want to work under a Black supervisor.”

The interesting thing is that according to Chief Green, despite the reduction in staff, crime — already low — has gone down in Golden Valley. The town plans to staff the department back up, just not right away. “I’ve heard that the police union is cautioning officers from coming to work here,” Mr. Harris said. “But that’s OK. We want to take the time to hire officers who share our vision and are excited to work toward our goals.”

As Balko (and Chief Virgil Green) freely admit, Golden Valley is not representative of the nation as a whole. Sure, the antipathy shown to the town’s first black police chief is probably indicative of the nation as a whole, but Golden Valley is one of the richest suburbs of Minneapolis, which means the PD is definitely well-funded and crime rates are much lower than they are in surrounding areas.

That being said, the evidence shows even Golden Valley is paying far too much for its police department. Half the police force quit to avoid dealing with reform efforts and/or working for a black police chief. Despite walking off the job rather than confront difficulties of their own making, crime rates continued to decline. This means Golden Valley residents have been paying for at least twice as many cops as they actually need — a number that was never questioned until the Thin Blue Line dropped half its cumulative weight.

If this well-off suburb can survive this without a spike in crime, other areas can afford to shed officers without feeling each departing officer will generate a corresponding increase in criminal activity.

Officers routinely flood areas considered to be “high crime” just because the median income is lower and minorities are the majority. This seldom results in lower crime rates. But it does give cops a bunch of busywork that often involves racial profiling and rights violations.

Whenever cops are criticized, they claim that without their “valuable” “service,” the areas they police would devolve into lawlessness. But cops have been exiting in force following the latest round of nationwide protests and, for the most part, crime rates across the nation continue to decline. All of this shows cops can’t be trusted to estimate their own worth.

More cities should institute solid reform efforts and place the burden of proof on cops and their spokespeople. Chances are, the facts won’t back the outlandish claims made in defense of throwing good money after bad.

Filed Under: crime, golden valley, law enforcement, minneapolis pd, police