- Sen. Tom Cotton said increases in violent crime are a result of demands that police be defunded and interference with police operations.
- Cotton said he is concerned that the election of Joe Biden and other officials that are unwilling to support the police will lead to more violence since criminals won’t suffer consequences.
- Cotton proposed the Better Policing Community Recognition Act that would give cash rewards to officers who practice good policing.
Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said Monday that increased reports of violent crime are a result of recent condemnations of police and calls to defund police departments.
“When the police pull back or when the police are condemned, you have the kind of violence we’ve seen, unfortunately, in the last two months across the country,” Cotton said in a conversation hosted by the Manhattan Institute Monday afternoon.
“We should send the message that police will defend innocent life, the police will defend property and that our prosecutors will pursue you, and we will put you in jail to protect public safety,” Cotton said.
Cotton’s remarks come as violent crime has reportedly escalated since June in major cities like Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle and New York City, CNN reported. Shootings in New York City increased by more than 350% in mid-June compared to the same time period in 2019, according to various reports.
America is in the midst of a national conversation on policing. @SenTomCotton and @reihan discuss the future of policing and the challenges of public debate in an age of polarization: https://t.co/ZyUqKw5thy pic.twitter.com/Wb8gmTEHLb
— Manhattan Institute (@ManhattanInst) July 20, 2020
Cotton told the Manhattan Institute that he was concerned about the potential election of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden combined with a possible Democratic majority in Congress and members of local and state leadership who are reluctant to support their police departments.
“Criminals in those cities [Portland and Seattle] and across the country will begin to get the picture that no one is going to stop them when they loot an Apple store, no one will stop them when they burn down a police precinct or a police officer’s union building,” Cotton said.
Protesters in Portland, Oregon, set fire to a police union building before barricading officers inside the Courthouse on Saturday, the Daily Caller reported. In Seattle, Washington, protesters established the so-called Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone that was dismantled earlier this month, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
“[I’m worried] that crime will only continue to grow and it’ll spiral far beyond public institutions or police buildings and go into retributions or turf wars between drug gangs or what have you because these criminals believe that they are not going to be policed and captured and imprisoned for their misdeeds,” Cotton said.
“The police are not provocation that lead to crime, the police are what keep crime rates under control,” Cotton said. (RELATED: Tom Cotton: NYT Column Calling To Abolish Police ‘Puts Lives In Danger’)
Cotton proposed his own Better Policing Community Recognition Act on June 16, which would “offer cash rewards for police officers who have been recognized for engaging in best practices, for excelling in their work, for exhibiting the highest degrees of professionalism,” to be administered by the Department of Justice.
Calls to defund the police started shortly after the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after a former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, video of the incident shows.
Criminologist Richard Rosenfeld said it’s likely that social unrest combined with instances of police violence were partly responsible for increases in violent crime, CNN reported.
People are less likely to rely on police when crimes happen if they don’t trust or are intimidated by officers, Rosenfeld said. People are also more prone to resolving disputes on their own if they think they can’t count on police, according to Rosenfeld.
Cities that have either cut their police department’s budget or reevaluated institutional relationships with officers include: Minneapolis, Minnesota; Baltimore, Maryland; Portland, Oregon; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Seattle, Washington and Hartford, Connecticut, Axios reported.
Cotton published an op-ed in the New York Times where he argued that the U.S. military could be deployed to “restore order” in the wake of national protests.
After criticism from staff, the Times issued an editor’s note acknowledging that the piece “fell short” of their standards and “should not have been published.”
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