Voters and Public Servants Choose Police Reform Sparingly After George Floyd Murder

Protests and unrest in response to Floyd’s death have since shaped local and national politics. A policy favored by the protesters was to reduce spending on law enforcement, with proposals ranging from a gradual shift in funding from law enforcement to social services to the outright abolition of police services. and the role played by the police in America.

In towns where “police funding” was under discussion on Tuesday, voters rejected the idea. Since Floyd’s murder, law enforcement reform has been more responsive to local concerns.

Without reliable public security, “it’s hard to have a lot of other things,” he said. “When you don’t have it or feel it pulling away, you’re probably going to jump in there as your first response.”

Election results continue a trend

In Buffalo, the incumbent mayor was re-elected by a campaign written after losing the Democratic primary to a socialist “defund the police”, and Seattle voters elected a mayor who lobbied for more officers compared to a candidate who pledged to cut police spending in half.
In Minneapolis, voters rejected a plan that would have opened the door for a radical overhaul of law enforcement by eliminating the city’s minimum staffing requirement and giving city council greater control over law enforcement efforts. They also re-elected the city’s mayor, who refused to pledge to abolish the police. Instead, he said he wanted to ensure an integrated approach to public safety, hire more community-based officers, strengthen security beyond law enforcement and take reform seriously. “multi-jurisdictional level”.
Republicans used “funding” to portray Democrats as lenient with crime, and President Joe Biden told Democrats in Georgia that Republicans used “police funding” to “beat hell” Democrats in the November election last year. Prominent Democrats have since called the “defund the police” mistake.

“This sentiment has proven to be quite unpopular across the country,” Smith said. “Even in Minneapolis, the site of Derek Chauvin killing George Floyd, it couldn’t even get through there.

“You could say even in 2020 that some unrest, homelessness, rising murder rates, people were noticing it and looking for a way to express it,” he said. “In a situation of increasing disorder and criminality and other associated issues, the most law-abiding candidate will likely have an advantage.”

In cities and states around the world, elected officials have taken slower or less drastic action that hasn’t dramatically changed the role of law enforcement in America since Floyd’s death. Tuesday’s election results are a continuation of this trend.

In some states, attorneys general conduct investigations into local police departments modeled on federal investigations into models and practices that seek ways to reform the police. Some cities are looking to change or limit the role of police in mental health or addiction-related calls.
Even Democrats now admit
Mayors, city councils, governors and state legislatures have all had the opportunity to dismantle, fund or reorganize police services through budgets or other normal government deliberations. Few officials have been as loud as those in Minneapolis, where nine of the city’s 13 city councilors pledged to dismantle the police department last summer after a week of protests and unrest in the city.
On Tuesday, voters had their first chance to vote on a concrete police proposal: a ballot measure that would have facilitated city council’s police overhaul by eliminating a staffing requirement and giving the council executive control over the police.
Minneapolis residents rejected the measure by a 12-point margin and re-elected Jacob Frey, the city’s mayor, who opposed plans to dismantle the police department. The ballot measure itself was the product of over a year of litigation and other bureaucratic fights and did not go as far as elected officials had promised. It was a city where there was broad agreement among city officials that the police needed certain changes.

“I think part of this is reality testing,” said Chuck Wexler, director of the Non-partisan Police Leadership Research Forum. “People say listen, we want to change the police, but you know we also have a problem with violent crime, we have a problem with domestic violence… so there is a need to reform the American police service. I think you can. do it, but I think what people are saying is, let’s do it responsibly, involve the community, educate the police, hire better, train better, supervise better, but at the same time you have a problem crime and you can’t ignore it. ”

Seattle voters send ‘pretty clear’ message

The Seattle mayoral race was between two candidates who were both city councilors, were both racial minorities, had similar funding and had similar name recognition prior to the race, Smith said. Where they differed was the police.

Seattle saw an increase in homicides last year after protests and unrest in late May and early June. This year’s total, in the first half of the year, is the same as last year. Seattle, like other cities on the west coast, has seen an increase in homelessness and some public parks have been overrun with homeless settlements.

And in June and July of last year, protesters took control of an area six blocks from the city known as the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone”. He followed protests, unrest and looting in Seattle and elsewhere after Floyd’s death.
Mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez was one of seven to support the Seattle police spending cut by 50%. Bruce Harrell was not.
Police chiefs are leaving services at a faster rate than in previous years

“It’s such a clear test that you normally get posts and platforms from candidates and Gonzalez and Harrel work on different things,” said Smith, the professor. “It’s pretty clear that Harrell’s message was much more appealing.”

Seattle’s mayoral election wasn’t the only one where policing was at the heart of the race – voters almost elected a Republican city attorney rather than a public defender opposed to prosecuting most. misdemeanor charges.
The expected losing candidate, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, had also called the officers “pigs” and “serial killers”, and her campaign manager called the city’s police chief – a black woman – ” uncle Tom (expletive) ”.

“Even in Seattle where Republicans aren’t popular… between a Republican or Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, Seattle said we’ll take the Republican and that’s remarkable,” Smith said.

In Buffalo, Mayor Byron Brown declared victory on Tuesday in his campaign for a fifth term against Democratic Socialist India Walton, who won the primary earlier this year. Walton, who won 41% of the vote, had called for the reallocation of $ 7.5 million from the Buffalo Police Department’s budget. Brown accused Walton of seeking to fund the police – a term she strayed from.

According to his agenda, Walton’s public safety policy agenda was aimed at addressing the root causes of the violence rather than harsher police and penalties after the violence. She describes her approach as “evidence-based, data-driven, and grounded in proven practices in Buffalo and elsewhere.”

In an interview with CNN before the early voting began, Brown said the stakes would be “dire and dire” if Walton were elected, adding that she “would horribly take back our city. It would jeopardize our public safety.”

The message “We still need the police” echoed

Scott Phillips, an associate professor in the criminal justice department at SUNY Buffalo State, told CNN that there is no clear measure of whether Walton was defeated because of her public safety agenda or her label of Democratic socialist – but it is possible that his police policies “had a big role to play”.

“When you say you’re going to downsize the police department, which like many other cities has problems with shootings and homicides, that’s going to scare people,” Phillips said.

According to Phillips, Walton was not clear enough in his message regarding the purpose and objectives of some of his policing policies to help the public understand how the changes would affect them, including downsizing the police department. .

State GAs

“She wasn’t explaining these supposedly drastic changes in the way the police would perform their duties. You don’t have to be a police officer to scratch your head and say, ‘That doesn’t make sense. “An ordinary citizen will say the same thing,” Phillips said.

“In the effort to improve policing, there has to be much more debate and discussion about what they’re talking about. The bumper sticker arguments will never get you where you want to go,” added Phillips. “And so, while the police need reform, needs to be improved, without a deeper understanding of what the research tells us about it, you won’t get a successful policy.”

Voters in New York’s Democratic primary have chosen Eric Adams, a former police officer, as their Democratic candidate for mayor this summer. His election Tuesday in the legislative elections was widely expected. This city, like most other major US cities, has seen an increase in homicides last year and this year.

Smith said there were two issues: one recognized the problematic use of force by police across the country, the other was whether funding was the appropriate policy response.

“I think (Harrell) is probably hitting the sweet spot. We need police reform, accountability, better training, respect for citizens. That message along with, we’re not going to fund, we’re going to get and compensate the police, ”Smith said.“ But we still need the police. This is the ideal point. Basically, that was (Harrell’s) message. Basically, that was Adams’ message. This is exactly what will attract the greatest number of voters. ”

CNN’s Gregory Krieg contributed to this report.

About Natalee Broderick

Natalee Broderick

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