Cops Pretty Sure Their Morale’s Too Low To Solve Homicides
The United States homicide rate is increasing. More than 500 people were murdered in Philadelphia this year. Cook County, Illinois, reported a 50 percent increase in murders since 2019. Baltimore also had an increase in homicides that Police Commissioner Michael Harrison blames on gun violence. He’s not scapegoating. Guns are the murder weapon of choice.
"Whether it's young people, whether it's older people, people solving their conflict with violence, namely gun violence," Harrison told CBS News.
Harrison is also concerned about the rise of so-called “ghost guns.” These are firearms that lack commercial serial numbers and people can assemble the untraceable weapon in their home “within an hour.” Baltimore cops have seized more than 300 ghost guns this year.
The same week as the Michigan school shooting, a 17-year-old Brooklyn high school student was busted with a loaded 9 mm pistol and more than $30,000 in cash, which we presume he wasn’t going to spend on the vending machines. The school put up a single metal detector the next day and found 21 weapons, including knives and stun guns.
So guns are a problem, and, true to their design purpose, they’re getting people killed. We could pass better gun laws, but it seems like the media is going to help steer the discussion in a more rightwing friendly direction. For instance, this is a CBS News headline on the subject: "More Guns And Fewer Police officers Are Blamed For Spike In Homicides.”
More guns and fewer police officers are blamed for spike in homicideshttps://cbsn.ws/3puLCkX— CBS News (@CBS News) 1638656400
Generally speaking, the police investigate homicides. They don’t prevent them. This is why the "Law & Order” franchise has never had a series called "Psychic Detectives Unit.” In fairness, cops would probably stop a homicide if they saw one occurring right in front of them (that’s excluding cases where one of their own officers is murdering someone). However, it’s a stretch to argue that the increased homicide rate is directly connected to fewer cops on the payroll.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, local police lost about one percent of its workforce from 2019 to 2020, which is not a lot if you know how one percent works. The CBS News article follows up that statistic with the claim that after the nationwide protests against police violence last year, some major cities, such as New York City and Oakland, cut police funding.
What’s not put into context is that municipal budgets across the nation were cut in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The police pitched a fit, of course, but it’s not like their departments were reduced to six guys and a cap pistol. Last June, New York "decided to cancel the planned hiring of roughly 1,160 officers, and to shift monitoring of illegal vending, homeless people on the streets and school safety away from the police.” If public schools lost funding for art and music classes, few conservatives would suggest this is why students are suddenly failing math.
Also, Mayor Bill de Blasio blinked on even moderate cuts to law enforcement, and fiscal year 2022’s spending plan keeps the police headcount and operations intact.
The New York Timespublished an article a couple weeks ago with the headline “After Murders ‘Doubled Overnight,’ The NYPD Is Solving Fewer Cases.” The headline misleadingly presented a former cop’s quote as a verifiable fact. He’d only said that police “caseloads” had doubled. The Times didn’t seem to differentiate between caseloads and actual murders. Also, the caseloads hadn’t doubled overnight, either, and the Times let this easily disproven copaganda stand.
The NYT wrote another pro-police propaganda piece that had all of the usual problems I\u2019ve discussed before (more on that below). But the editors chose to add a headline that stated that \u201cmurders \u2018doubled overnight\u2019\u201d in the Bronx, New York. Here\u2019s where it gets devious.pic.twitter.com/ex2moQPVcw— Alec Karakatsanis (@Alec Karakatsanis) 1638034086
Cops might blame police reform advocates for violent crime, but the media shouldn’t repeat those claims without at least openly sneering at their cynical posturing. When a toddler died in the crossfire of a freeway shutout last month, the Oakland Police Officers’ Association declared this the “tragic consequence” of defunding the police, which never happened. However, cops keep insisting that hurting their feelings somehow emboldens violent crime. Their morale is just too damn low to prevent homicides.
"We did a survey of a couple of hundred police departments showing retirements increasing, resignations increasing," said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. "The workforce is shrinking.”
Oh no! Cops are also reportedly quitting over vaccine mandates, but that’s probably for the best. It’s hard to solve crimes when you’re needlessly dying from COVID-19.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."