You may recall that Democrats were falling all over themselves near the end of this election cycle to assure everyone that they didn’t support any sort of “abolish the police” movement. (Though some of the ones in safe seats, such as AOC, kept right on saying it.) The reasons were obvious, given the abysmal polling on the issue. We’re still seeing that from the two Democratic Senate candidates in Georgia this week. Who, us? Abolish the police? Perish the thought!
Meanwhile, in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York, an “experiment” was just concluded to test out the idea of doing precisely that. For a five day period, the police “pulled back” from one section of Brownsville, to be replaced by “violence interrupter and crisis management groups.” Those groups roamed the streets, keeping an eye on any possible incidents. Tents were set up where city agencies and non-profit groups stationed volunteers “to offer information on education, job and housing opportunities, as well as other services.”
When the test period was over, activists declared it a rousing success because only one 911 call had come from the area during the test period and that one was an accidental alarm triggered by a bus driver. So we can just get rid of the cops, right? As you’ll see below, the actual details of this experiment were far from what’s currently being billed as some monumental achievement. (The City)
A Brooklyn community’s experiment to deal with a longstanding crime hotspot in a busy commercial corridor took a new approach last month: They pulled back on policing.
Cops from Brownsville’s 73rd Precinct withdrew from their regular posts on Mother Gaston Boulevard for parts of a five-day stretch in early December, while violence interrupter and crisis management groups watched over the two-block zone between Pitkin and Sutter avenues.
“This was ‘defund the police’ in actuality,” said Assemblymember Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn), who grew up in the nearby Glenmore Plaza Houses.
The activists are correct on one point when they identify the area under study as a “crime hotspot.” Among the many dangerous neighborhoods in New York City, Brownsville is arguably the worst. They have a violent crime rate that works out to 175 per 100,000 people. They have the most reported incidents of violent crime in any neighborhood in the city. So it must have been an amazing accomplishment to shut down crime completely for five days, eh?
As Joe Biden might say, that’s a load of malarkey. First of all, the area being “studied” in this experiment was all of two blocks long. There were groups of police stationed at the corners all around the blocks where the experiment was running, ready to respond if things went entirely pear-shaped. Gang members would have had their hands full evening trying to get into the area.
Further, this little endeavor wasn’t even running all day and night. They ran the experiment for ten hours per day, and not during the late-night and early morning hours when things really tend to get gnarly down in Brownsville. Add to that the fact that it was done during a significant cold weather snap (not to mention the coronavirus lockdown) and there wasn’t much traffic on the streets anyway.
If you had sent those “violence interrupter and crisis management groups” out there unarmed on a normal night without all of the tents, media fanfare and cops standing by, you’d be lucky if you even got them all back to the office alive by the end of the week. The more probable explanation was that the gangs got wind of what was going on and simply stayed away from those two blocks until everyone packed up and went home for the night and then went about their “business.”
This is pretty much the same as the idea that other cities have floated about replacing traffic cops with citizens carrying ticket books. That works just fine until it doesn’t and one of them pulls over the wrong person with a rap sheet and an illegal weapon in the car. These “violence interrupters” might have been able to break up the occasional fistfight and prevent the situation from escalating under normal conditions but when the real gangbangers show up and become annoyed at how these civilians are disrupting the normal flow of gang business, that situation is going to go south quickly.
So let’s run that experiment again, shall we? Only this time, don’t invite the press. Keep the civilians out there 24/7 in shifts and just give the cops the week off, rather than being stationed within plain view. Then come back and let us know how it worked out. Do you want to see a real world without police? You’ll find out soon enough what that looks like.