Reprinted from hartmannreport.com
Bill Clinton famously put 100,000 new cops on the streets nationwide, an action that de-fanged Republicans who claimed Democrats were "soft on crime." So far, nothing the Biden administration has done comes even close.
As a result, Republicans are highlighting rising crime rates around the country (often tied to local increases in homelessness), blaming it on Democratic mayors and the politically suicidal "defund the police" rhetoric from folks fed up with police killings of unarmed Black people.
If Democrats in general, and President Biden in particular, don't take this opportunity to show real leadership on the crime issue, they could be in a world of hurt in November 2022.
This crime problem is real and not just GOP propaganda. Much of it is a product of the Covid pandemic and its disruptive economic consequences, but explaining "causes" is largely meaningless to victims who simply want action.
Anecdotally, a s I noted in a recent op-ed about inequality and crime, a burglar tried to break into my house a short time ago and, when unsuccessful, went a few houses down and broke into a neighbor's house, catching her in the shower while looting her home. When we filed a police report with the city and offered video of the burglar, the report went unanswered and expired.
There have been multiple shootings reported within a mile of us in the past two weeks. Just down the road from us, a neighbor told us he saw what he believed was a homeless, mentally ill man walking down the street with a shotgun at 2 am. He called the police but was told nobody would be dispatched unless the man was menacing or shooting at people.
And, of course, this isn't even remotely unique to Portland.
The website nextdoor.com has become pretty ubiquitous across America and two years ago most of the posts were about lost cats and offers of surplus zucchini from the garden. Today, people are crowdsourcing how to catch the criminals who've broken into their houses, stolen their cars or assaulted them.
In just the past few days, folks on nextdoor.com here in Portland have gotten together to find multiple stolen items including bicycles and cars - several were found at nearby homeless encampments - as well as posting pictures of burglars, snatch-and-grab thieves and people who've committed assaults.
Citizen "neighborhood watch" committees are self-organizing around the country, all while muttering that it's time to "throw out the bum" politicians allowing this situation to emerge and fester.
When citizens begin doing the police department's work - including neighborhoods around the country that are hiring private security because police don't respond to anything but the most severe crimes - you know there's a crisis.
This state of perpetual crisis is how life is lived in poor and developing countries; communities depend on private armed guards instead of relying on police. I've seen it in Bogota, Nairobi, Jakarta, Juba, Lima, Mumbai, Mexico City, Cairo, Bangkok, Manila, Colombo and a dozen other cities on multiple continents. It's a sign of cultural and political crisis.
And if they know nothing else, politicians know how to exploit a crisis. This will become a major political issue, even though it's probably a temporary Covid-caused blip and, even at its worst, crime statistics now are far better than they were 20 years ago.
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