Democrats’ “Defund the Police” Agenda Has Made Georgia Less Safe

April 14, 2022

(Editor’s note: The author is running for election to Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. We will occasionally publish op-eds from all the Republican and Democrat Congressional candidates.)

If you want to see how Democrats’ words and actions have put Georgia families, workers, and small businesses in harm’s way – look no further than our own back yard.Democrats across the nation have blindly sided with left-wing mobs and protesters over the brave men and women in law enforcement who keep us safe. Their reckless policies and inflammatory rhetoric have put our families and children at risk. Now, we are reaping what they sowed: an increase in murders, assaults and violent crime. From coast to coast, law enforcement worried about politicized prosecution have to think twice before intervening in violent crime.

In June 2020, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told reporters that the city of Atlanta had been “defunding the police” for the past few years. The mayor described how the city reallocated “around 50 percent” of its corrections budgets into social services and community enhancement initiatives instead of hiring more police officers.

One month later, the Atlanta City Council debated cutting $73 million from the Atlanta Police Department’s budget as an olive branch to the “Defund the Police” movement. While the vote narrowly failed, the message was clear: Atlanta residents do not support the men and women in blue who swore an oath to shield them from danger.

Bottoms took another hammer to police morale by firing officers without due process, when many in metro Atlanta thought the officers acted rationally in emergency situations. Even worse, Officer Garrett Rolfe was charged with the murder of Rayshard Brooks – who’d stolen Rolfe’s taser and tried to use it against him – by a Democratic DA trying to appease left-wing voters in his primary.

Before COVID-19, there were 99 homicides in Atlanta in 2019. In 2020, there were 157 murders – a 60 percent increase. From 2020 to 2021, reported rapes increased by 39 percent – from 119 to 166. Between 2019 and 2020, aggravated assaults increased by 25 percent. Between 2020 and 2021, aggravated assaults increased by 9 percent.

We have fewer police on patrol to confront this crime wave. Since 2020, more than 200 officers resigned or retired from the Atlanta Police Department, and the APD is struggling to recruit new officers.

Don’t just look at Atlanta; look across the nation. Because Democrat-run cities have undermined their police departments and let vicious criminals back onto the street, violent crime and murders are skyrocketing. Last year, 16 major U.S. cities saw their number of homicides break previous records. It’s no coincidence that in 2020 the United States recorded more than 20,000 murders, which was a 30 percent increase compared to homicides reported in 2019.

Police are victimized too. In 2021, 346 police officers were shot in the line of duty, an all-time high. Tragically, 63 officers died from their wounds.

These public servants deserve better. Our families deserve safety.

In liberal enclaves that have tried defunding the police, the results were predictably terrible. Ironically, the communities they claim to speak for have suffered the worst of the crime increase. Liberal local officials are rushing to walk it back as they face a backlash from their own voters.

But there’s more to do. On the national level, Congress should incentivize states to copy Georgia’s law which prevents local governments from defunding police, and it must tie certain funding to reforms that guarantee police officers due process rights when liberal city leaders fire them in response to the mob, not the facts.

Guaranteeing public safety is the biggest responsibility of our federal, state and local governments. When law enforcements feels under siege, all of us suffer. For our own self-interest, we must insist that police receive fair pay, great training and high-quality equipment. We must encourage good people to go into this career by treating them with respect, not immediate suspicion.

By backing the blue, we’re not just helping officers. We’re helping ourselves.

Jake Evans is a Republican running to represent Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in Congress