Candidates running in Tuesday’s mayoral elections across the U.S. have promised to “crackdown” on crime in the aftermath of violent crime surges that swept through major American cities.
Candidates, including Democrats, have stepped away from the Black Lives Matter movement’s calls to defund police departments in response to the death of George Floyd, as crime has risen in cities and the public demands for traditional policing strategies, according to the Washington Post.
A Tuesday Pew Research poll revealed that 47% of Americans want to increase funding toward police departments, while 15% want to decrease funds. In response, mayoral candidates have made public safety a major component of their campaigns, the Washington Post reported.
Democratic Miami Beach mayoral candidate Dan Gelber is calling for a ban on the sale of alcohol at bars after 2 a.m. in order to control the surge in gun violence and unruly behavior, according to the outlet. Gelber promised to “crackdown” on crime in the city and show that they are tough on crime.
“My residents are saying ‘we need to crackdown,’ or ‘we need to have zero tolerance,'” he said.
Democratic New York City Mayoral candidate Eric Adams’ campaign website declares that the city “needs the NYPD [New York Police Department] and is pushing to reform the police departments by adding greater diversity, create an intelligence committee and publicize a list of cops that have been reported by their colleagues for bad behavior.
Adams’s campaign also proposed removing “overly aggressive” officers and targeting shooters with trained police tactics, according to the website. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Larry Horan-Aligned Group Launches New ‘Refund Police’ Ad Campaign Against Democrat Pushback)
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis, who has been in office since 2017, has faced backlash from progressive candidates on his handling of the city’s police department, according to CNN. A handful of critics believe that Frey has issued “over-policing” in the city since Floyd’s death.
The city ballot’s “Question 2” is proposing an amendment that would remove the police department from the city’s charter and replace it with a newly created Department of Public Safety, the outlet reported. If the measure passed, it would eliminate a requirement to employ a minimum number of officers in the city and the department would be in charge of employing more officers if they chose to do so.
Frey, an opponent of Question 2, argued that Minneapolis has one of the lowest numbers of officers per capita of any major U.S. city and that it is in the city’s best interest to hire more officers to combat crimes, the outlet reported. The city slashed its Minneapolis Police Department budget by approximately $7.7 million.
In Buffalo’s race, Democratic incumbent Mayor Byron Brown has been criticized by Democratic Socialist India Walsh for proposing to cut $7.5 million from the police budget and eliminate police department positions through attrition and reducing overtime, according to CNN.
Boston’s mayoral candidates councilor-at-large Annissa Essaibi George and Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu differ on proposals to reallocate the Boston Police Department’s budget funding to address the root causes of crime, the outlet reported. George argues that the department needs 300 more officers and opposes the idea, while Wu proposes turning non-violent 911 calls over to response teams and civilian personnel to handle certain issues.
Justin Hansford, executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University, said Black Lives Matter has faded as a political influence in major cities, according to the outlet. He said the movement is struggling with its leadership structure.
“That lack of cohesion, what does it is, it means you cannot come up with a counter-strategy that everyone can agree on, and you can’t come up with a long-term strategy,” Hansford said. “We always knew there would be a pushback to changing policing, but what is surprising is how quickly Democrats are back to a law-and-order narrative.”
Major U.S. cities defunded their police departments in response to Black Lives Matter’s demands with a simultaneous rise in crime rates. The number of murders increased by 36.7% in 2020 in comparison to 2019 throughout the country.
In 2020, violent crime increased in Minneapolis by 17% in low-income neighborhoods and 30% in high-income neighborhoods. New York City murder rates rose by 39.2% in 2020 in comparison to the previous year, and by 19.4% in Washington D.C.