Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says local residents are in danger because "defunding has consequences," even though his agency's budget is up more than $250 million since 2019. Villanueva is not alone in suggesting to voters that crime is up because Democrats defunded police agencies after nationwide protests after the 2020 murder of George Floyd. Politicians, pundits and police leaders repeat the accusation as they address concerns about crime heading toward Election Day. In many communities, defunding never happened. ABC-owned television stations examined the budgets of more than 100 cities and counties and found that 83 percent are spending at least two percent more on police in 2022 than in 2019.
Of the 109 budgets analyzed, only eight agencies cut police funds by more than two percent, while 91 agencies increased law enforcement funding by at least two percent. In 49 cities or counties, police funding has increased by more than 10 percent. An analysis of broadcast transcripts shows that candidates, law enforcement leaders and television hosts discussed the impact of "defunding the police" more than 10,000 times over the last two years, according to the Internet Archive's TV news transcripts dating back to June 2020. "In communities across the country, like in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, so many other places, it is this remarkable, incredible, outbreak of crime," said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a video posted on Twitter in August by the Republican Governors Association. Rashawn Ray, a sociologist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said this false narrative has persisted due to repetition by public officials.