Facing massive crime waves, California cities have spent COVID relief funds on police

the Guardian reports that California cities have spent much of their COVID relief money on police departments. Given the effects of COVID on policing, the massive resignations and retirements of officers across the country, and the spike in homicides, this is absolutely unsurprising.

San Francisco allocated 62% of its relief funds to the police and the sheriff’s department (the rest going to the fire department). Los Angeles spent about 50% on its police department and Fresno spent about 40%.

the Guardian article, written by Sam Levin, complains that several California cities have spent more on their police departments than on housing initiatives, COVID tracing and various welfare programs, “even though the crime rate remains significantly lower than that of previous decades.

But this is a misleading statistic. The bigger number is the number of police officers these cities need but can’t hire, often because their politicians have been so hostile and job hazards have grown.

In August 2021, it was reported that the Los Angeles Police Department had nearly 300 open officer positions and nearly 500 fewer officers on duty than the same time in 2020. Earlier this year, the department lacked an additional 500 officers due to COVID. quarantines. Meanwhile, 2020 has broken the city’s 12-year trend of declining homicides. And 2021 has seen 397 homicides, the most in the city since 2006.

San Francisco also saw an increase in homicides and shootings as well as burglaries, robberies and car break-ins. The city is struggling with a police shortage of about 400 officers. He struggled to recruit and furloughed several other officers due to his vaccine mandate. Fresno also saw an increase in homicides, and San Diego started the year with a dramatic increase in violent crimes.

Turns out, it wasn’t such a good strategy to drive officers off the job by adopting anti-police rhetoric amid a spike in homicides. California’s lenient attitude toward crime has real effects, and those effects are compounded when Democratic city leaders refuse to support their police. After all, these officers can often go to work in nice places like Montana or Idaho, where the risks are lower, the pay is comparable, and there’s no need to deal with toxic California politicians.

Given that much of the COVID relief funds have been used for things other than COVID anyway, it seems reasonable to use them to bring police departments back to full strength, especially since violent crime soar.

Perhaps California cities can start spending more on housing initiatives and other welfare programs when they get homicides under control. But the rule of law and preventing residents from being shot should probably be the top priority of any city, especially any city failing in these areas.

Bernard P. Love