Violent crime rates continue to climb in American cities in the wake of several high profile cases involving the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of the police. In an article published Wednesday, The Washington Times quotes several law enforcement authorities who attribute the dramatic increase in crime to less proactive policing spawned by the feeling among police officers that elected officials do not have their backs.
Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, told the Times:
There’s a feeling amongst the actual rank-and-file officers who are on the street, the men and women doing the job, that they do not enjoy the backup or the support of some elected officials.
Just like any other human being on the planet, police weigh the consequences of their actions in the back of their head before committing to any action. They ask themselves, ‘Will I go the extra mile? Will I risk my career or my own freedom?’
Jon Adler, national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, agreed:
There is a sense that there is opportunity to vent. There is a sense that violent people can take action without repercussions, and that is caused by local civic leaders, weak civic leaders, that this is permissible.
Among the rising crime statistics cited in the Times article:
- Shootings in Baltimore since the beginning of the year are almost double those during the same timeframe last year.
- New York City has experienced a 9% increase in shootings and a 20% increase in homicides through May 31 over last year.
- Homicides in Chicago have risen from 137 at this time last year to 161 this year.
- Homicide rates and carjackings in Newark, NJ have reached their highest rate in over a decade.
Johnson of the National Association of Police Organizations speculates that increased public scrutiny of police practices such as “stop-and-frisk” policies which have been mostly halted in New York City and Baltimore has sent a message to criminals that police enforcement has weakened, leading lawbreakers to become more brazen in their actions.
Jonathan Thompson, executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association, told the Times:
Dedicated law enforcement officers wake up every day, put on their star or badge and vow to earn the trust of hundreds of millions of law-abiding citizens of this country. This is the job they took and the trust they are sworn to honor. However, society, at every level, has an obligation too, and it’s long past the time that our leaders come together and reaffirm that social obligation.