Defunding police will not improve life on the ground in big cities. At a time when cities like Los Angeles and even crime-ridden Baltimore and Chicago adopt “tough” policies about enforcing lockdowns and arresting violators, they have also returned a generation of criminals to the streets sometimes by suspending bail. Crime is up in many cities, including, San Francisco, New York, and Minneapolis, all cities that have emptied jails and reduced enforcement.
The biggest impact of the assault on the legitimacy of law enforcement is felt in minority communities. Diverting funds away from the police may have been seen as politically expedient,but it has not helped Baltimore—a city with a long history of police abuse—curb its astronomic murder rate. Nor is there any reason to expect that fashionable “defunding” efforts would bring down Chicago’s persistently high homicide rate, curb the rising crime rate tied to the growing homeless population in Los Angeles, or slow San Francisco’s slide toward a lawless dystopia.
The return to “riot ideology” may appeal to partisan journalists, academics, athletes, and entertainers, but it will not restore the viability of blue cities, particularly their minority neighborhoods. What’s truly needed in America’s big cities is not just a return to order, but a government determined to foster the cultivation of employable skills and the better paying jobs that go with them.