The rise in crime across the nation has Democrats on defense. In the summer of 2020, Democrats across the nation embraced the idea of defunding police. Now that the devastating consequences are starting to show, they're reversing course. Not only that, they're trotting out a new line of attack to deflect the blame.
The White House is trying to reclaim the high ground on fighting crime by charging that Republicans are the ones who defunded the police.
Biden aide Cedric Richmond fired the first volley on Fox News Sunday when he said congressional Republicans who voted against a $350 billion plan to aid cities denied money to the police.
"Let's talk about who defunded the police, when we were in Congress last year trying to pass a rescue plan, I mean an emergency relief plan for cities that were cash strapped and laying off police and firefighters, it was Republicans who objected to it," Richmond said.
Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki doubled down on the strategy. "As you know, it didn't receive a single Republican vote. That funding has been used to keep cops on the beat," she said.
The problem is, while some cities did use those funds to bolster police departments during COVID, the American Rescue Plan did not include specific funding to hire more police.
Meanwhile, Democrat leaders in cities across the country – including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and New York – actually did cut or withhold tens of millions of dollars in funds from police departments, resulting in layoffs and a spike in officers leaving the force.
And it's still happening. In Oakland, California, the city council recently voted to reduce the police force's budget by $17 million.
"So we see clearly that crime is out of control in the city of Oakland and our response was for less police resources," Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said. "Without the resources, it makes it challenging to make Oakland safe, and more families find themselves dealing with trauma."
And crime rates are now soaring across the U.S. – 37 cities saw an 18 percent rise in murders in the first three months of 2021, including a jump of 58 percent in Atlanta and more than 500 percent in Portland.
Several big cities are reversing course and looking to reinstate tens of millions of dollars they had cut or withheld from the police force.
But Rep. Jim Banks (R-Indiana) says it will take more than restoring funds to rebuild the ranks of our nation's police forces.
"When Rep. Omar says policing is rooted in evil and Nancy Pelosi compares police officers to Nazi stormtroopers, it makes it very hard for police departments around the country to recruit police officers," Banks said. "It's making it harder to recruit people to become police officers."
Political analysts say defunding the police was a big reason Democrats took heavy losses in the House in 2020, and it remains to be seen if the uptick in crime will have a similar impact in 2022.