Crime is increasing rapidly to levels not seen in decades. From 2010 to 2020, violent crime per capita increased 12%, with murder and manslaughter up 26%, rape up 38%, aggravated assault up 39%, and motor vehicle theft up 48%. Since the onset of COVID, there has also been an epidemic of shoplifting, up a staggering 88%.
Well-meaning progressive policies of removing bail restrictions and early release from prison have correctly solved some injustices but have also contributed to more potential offenders on the street.
At the same time, the police are facing a crisis. In response to the deaths of George Floyd, Tyree Nichols, and others, more police are being prosecuted for crimes. These prosecutions have helped contribute to a sharp decline in the number of police.
In 2021, retirements in police departments nationwide surged 44%. Resignations increased 20%. Meanwhile, fewer people want to become police officers. Nationally, applicants to police departments have dropped 40%.
As a result, many police departments have high vacancy rates. For example, in Phoenix, Tulsa, Winston-Salem, and Seattle, the vacancy rate averages above 16%. In Minneapolis, after the death of George Floyd, 300 officers left the department and the number of police officers declined 22%, During the same period, the number of gunshot victims increased 90%.
With higher crime rates, more liberal rules for people accused of crimes, and fewer police officers, crime is likely to keep increasing.
How do we balance the rights of the people with the need for safety?
• When police officers do something wrong, are they committing a crime or acting badly during a time of intense stress?
• Should we be prosecuting police officers for murder and manslaughter against potential offenders? Should soldiers face the same charges when they act badly?
• Is there a better way to deter police so that so many do not resign?
• How do we attract more people into the profession so society can feel safe? Higher salaries? Signing bonuses?
• Is there a better way to train police officers?
• Can programs like community policing help?
• Can better surveillance help? Should every street and store have cameras so police can better identify criminals? How do we balance privacy versus the need for protection?
• Are there other technologies we can use that can reduce crime without putting both police officers and citizens at risk?
• Is there any way we can reduce the number of guns, especially for people with mental issues?
It seems clear that police officers were terribly wrong in cases like that of George Floyd and Tyree Nichols. People who have not committed crimes should not be killed by the police. But in light of the rise in crime and the decline in the number of police officers, what steps do we need to take to make our society safer? How can this be done while protecting individual rights?
Please join us on Wednesday, April 19 and share your thoughts on this highly complex but very critical subject.
Participants must register by Noon on April 18th to receive details on joining the discussion. The Zoom link will be sent out 24 hours before the event.