The fight against systemic racism reverberated last year with protests, boycotts and calls to “defund the police.” A year after slashing police budgets, many cities have restored the funding, seemingly confirming activists’ suspicions that city leaders weren’t serious about the change in the first place. At least a dozen cities cut police funding or decreased officer numbers during last summer’s protests against police violence after the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, reports NBC News.
One by one, city governments began to bolster their police budgets in 2021, with an additional $200 million allocated in New York City the Los Angeles Police Department seeing a three percent increase in the year after the city council approved a $150 million cut. Among politicians, the idea of defunding the police was unpopular. Then-presidential candidate Joe Biden said last summer that he doesn’t support defunding the police, but supports “conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness.” The pattern of restoring police budgets seems to align with public opinion. Last summer, just 11 percent of adults said funding for their local police should be increased “a lot,” found a Pew Research poll. As of October, that figure is up to 21 percent. Police and city officials have cited rising violent crime rates for the reversals, but experts have noted that crime rates fluctuate for various reasons and shouldn't be solely attributed to police budget cuts. Austin, Tx., reversed its police budget cut of $150 million after severe staff shortages and a Republican-backed law that penalizes Texas cities for cutting their police budgets in some cases and, in others, requires voter approval first.