Disappointing police: data shows few places have cut law enforcement budgets; Experts speak of an attack on political opponents
HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — This election season, many politicians are using the term “defund the police,” but a review of the data shows that very few places across the country and in Southeast Texas actually do so.
The video above is from a previous report.
‘It’s so bad’: Crime is a big issue for voters ahead of the Midterms
Johnnie Green Jr. has lived in the same area for more than 70 years.
“I was born and raised in Sunnyside,” Green said. “I’ve never lived anywhere but Sunnyside.”
It’s a place that’s changed more than the paint on Green’s house.
Green said there aren’t as many vacant lots as there used to be. The biggest difference, however, is the number of blinking lights in its neighborhood.
“Crime is off the charts. It’s so bad,” Green said.
Data from neighborhood safety tracker ABC13 shows that where Green lives, the homicide rate is one of the highest in the city. According to Green, to curb crime, there is an answer.
“We need cops, and they need to be paid fairly because I don’t want to be a cop,” Green said. “It’s a dangerous job.”
“Disappointing the police” is a phrase that will be used a lot ahead of the 2022 election, but are governments actually doing it?
The idea of paying the police takes center stage. After the killing of Houston native George Floyd, there was much discussion about defunding the police force, but figures from the ABC13 data team show not many have done so.
In an analysis of more than 100 city and county households across the country, about 90% provided more or the same amount of money to law enforcement agencies in 2022 than they did three years ago.
In Harris County, sheriff’s and constable’s budgets increased 15%. In Houston, the police department’s budget increased from $900 billion four years ago to almost $1 billion in 2022.
Just because more money is now being spent doesn’t mean crime has gone down. Homicide numbers in Houston are down compared to 2021, but data shows about nine people are being killed each week. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were five.
If local governments don’t relieve the police, why is violent crime on the rise?
dr Kimberly Dodson, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, has researched the impact of police defunding. She said part of the problem with focusing on police budgets is that the role of law enforcement is reactionary.
“They don’t really think about tackling these fundamental issues,” Dodson explained. “If they were, you wouldn’t see small budgets like city planning and health and social services. These all fall at the bottom of the list.”
Governments may not be able to transfer police funds to other agencies due to recent Texas state laws
There may be a reason the city’s police budget is growing but others aren’t, and that’s because state legislatures don’t allow them to reallocate funds.
Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University, said Republicans took action and passed House Bill 9 amid statewide calls to defund police forces.
“The Republican Legislature did it as political theater to go after the Democratic cities and counties,” Jones explained.
In 2021, lawmakers passed legislation penalizing large Texas cities that cut police budgets.
“Outside the city of Austin, there was no law preventing communities from failing the police because they wouldn’t,” Jones said.
Corpus Christi is a place that spends less on the police. Four years ago the police budget accounted for 8.4% of the city budget. It is currently only 7.4%.
In the first half of 2022 there were 21 homicides. In 2021 there were only 10. Overall, violent crime has fallen by 5%.
Dodson said the defunding was a mixed bag. In some places it has made crime worse, but in others, prioritizing funding in other agencies, Dodson said it has worked.
“Actually they had social workers that went through their police academy and they graduated in the police class and they’re part of a crime prevention bureau,” Dodson explained.
Check out your live neighborhood safety tracker from the ABC13 data team.
Police defunding is taking its toll on law enforcement, but not for lack of funding
Dodson said many places don’t defund, but the use of the word has had implications for law enforcement. With both sides of the aisle using it this political season, it has resulted in fewer people entering policing.
“It’s made police work harder because police officers and law enforcement officers don’t feel recognized in the United States,” Dodson said.
It’s an underestimate that some Houstonians don’t understand.
“Boy, we need cops,” Green said. “In everything you do, you have some bad and some good. Never think that you will get everything good.”
After seeing many people in the same place, Green very soon wishes to see fewer flashing lights in the place he has called home for years.
For updates on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved.
https://abc13.com/what-cities-are-defunding-the-police-city-budget-2022-midterm-election-crime-near-me/12324617/ Disappointing police: data shows few places have cut law enforcement budgets; Experts speak of an attack on political opponents