Democratic Missouri Rep. Cori Bush claimed during a Tuesday hearing that law enforcement officials frequently kill Americans, and that opponents of defunding police “spew lies” about her position.
“What too many of my colleagues do not want us to talk about what, what they don’t want us talking about, is that as they trip over each other, rushing to spew lies and right-wing talking points about police funding, they are saying nothing about the rise of violence by the police,” Bush said. “Even after millions of people marched in our streets demanding an end to police brutality, there were only fifteen, one-five, fifteen days in 2021 in which police officers didn’t kill someone.”
Police killed 1,055 Americans in 2021, according to a database compiled by The Washington Post. However, despite the claims of activists, the vast majority of suspects were armed, primarily with guns. Thirty-four individuals killed by police were unarmed, according to the database.
Bush, who has marched in Black Lives Matter protests since 2014, frequently calls for cities and states to defund police, even as fellow Democrats criticize her for imperiling their congressional majorities. She criticized President Joe Biden’s State of the Union call to “fund the police,” ripping Biden for not “mention[ing] saving Black lives once.”
Bush has also spent thousands of dollars on private security, despite her opposition to increased police activity. (RELATED: Two Police Officers Fired After Working Private Security For Rep. Cori Bush)
“Last year we started a 911 diversion program that has diverted mental health, domestic violence, drug overdose, and trespassing calls to licensed and trained practitioners. Before it started, there were few options for people in crisis: a trip to the emergency room, spending a night in jail, or receiving no help at all,” she continued. “In the almost one year since implementation, our 911 diversion program answered nearly seven hundred calls, with seventy-five percent not resulting in a response by law enforcement. The program saved two thousand hours of police and EMS time. At the same time, despite no increases in the local police budget, homicide and gun assaults also fell down by more than 25 percent.”
St. Louis set a record for total murders, as well as murder rate, in 2020. The city saw 263 murders overall, at a rate of 87 per 100,000 residents. Both numbers dropped in 2021, to 196 total murders at a rate of 65 per 100,000 residents. Those numbers were still the third-highest overall for the city since 1995, according to a compilation from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“When some of my colleagues try to tell you that transforming public safety, that that will mean when you call 911 no first responder will answer, that is a lie. When there’s an emergency and you need help, no one will show up. That’s what they tell you, but that is a lie,” Bush added.
Nearly one-third of callers to the St. Louis police department’s 9-1-1 dispatch line were put on hold in 2020, and delays continued into 2021 and 2022. Mayor Tishaura Jones announced in August 2021 that police, fire, and EMS dispatchers would all operate out of the same call center in an effort to lower response times, although the city missed its self-imposed deadline to do so.