Six deadly shootings marked another bloody weekend in Chicago.
The saddest of all gun-related murders over the past week was a four-day-old infant.
The baby boy was delivered on Tuesday after his mother, 35-year-old Stacey Jones who was a Cook County probation officer, was shot to death while standing on her porch. Jones was eight months pregnant with this baby boy who tragically didn’t survive the weekend.
Heart-breaking stories like this are leaving many black mothers in mourning in cities where wanton violence is on the rise.
So far there have been 3,110 shooting victims in Chicago, which is up from just under 2,000 in all of 2019. New York City has seen a 91% spike in citywide shooting incidents–1,163 shootings from the start of the year through September up from just 608 shootings in all of 2019.
Shooting incidents are up 57% over 2019 rates in Philadelphia and the city hit 365 murders last week, eclipsing the total number of murders in all of last year.
2020 is the year that deadly violent crime came back with a vengeance.
According to an analysis in The Wall Street Journal, among the nation’s 50 largest cities homicides were up 24% to 3,612 so far this year.
Robberies, rapes, and burglaries are down because COVID-19 lockdowns have kept people at home where they are less vulnerable to attack — but shootings and homicides are up.
They surmise that homicides are rising because “violent criminals have been emboldened by the sidelining of police, courts, schools, churches and an array of other social institutions by the reckoning with police and the pandemic.”
Lifting restrictions on cities and states, allowing businesses and organizations to resume operations, and shifting schools from virtual learning to in-person instruction may help to calm the deadly violence erupting on our nation’s urban streets.
Meanwhile, social activists and even Left-leaning lawmakers are calling to defund police forces. For example, in August, a coalition of social justice groups demanded that Chicago reduce the police budget by 75% and shift over $1 billion to human services, education, and healthcare.
To her credit, Mayor Lori Lightfoot put her foot down and has rejected defunding the police. Instead, she proposed policing reforms crafted in collaboration with her colleagues at the United States Conference of Mayors.
Among many proposals, they recommend reforming collective bargaining and state law that make it difficult to hold police officers accountable for breaching the public’s trust.
For example, they advocate that collective bargaining agreements vest authority for final disciplinary decisions with the leadership of police departments.
This is an important reform that I highlighted in a new report, Policing Reform, through the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF).
As I explained, police unions too often shield bad cops from accountability for their wrongful actions and that undermines the trust communities have in law enforcement. Communities also suffer; collective bargaining is associated with higher levels of violent misconduct by law enforcement.
Unions could still negotiate pay and benefits on behalf of officers, while disciplinary actions are decoupled from the collective bargaining process to improve accountability. Such a change can uncuff the hands of police chiefs to make it easier for them to get rid of the bad apples.
Activists and the media want Americans to believe that we are not dealing with a few bad apples, but entire tainted orchards. Underpinning the defund the police movement is the unproven assumption that police are systemically racist and that incidents of deadly violence against blacks are evidence of rampant discrimination by police forces, rather than isolated incidents.
The reason this narrative has been successful in shaping public opinion among minorities is, perhaps, because they tend to have more negative non-deadly interactions with police officers. Their own personal experiences — whether you are the sole black Republican U.S. senator being stopped seven times in one year or a single mother with babies in your vehicle — make the narrative seem more plausible. And as Harvard economist Roland Fryer noted in his examination of racial differences in police use of force, these experiences have “spillover effects” in how minorities view police and race in America.
Despite some racial disparities in policing minority communities, it is clear that black and Hispanics join all races in wanting more, not fewer, police. They know all too well, that they are disproportionately the victims of violent crimes and want more cops on the beat to deter crime or pursue criminals.
Not another black grandmother should have to bury her daughter and grandson because of street violence. Focusing on the rising street violence is not mutually exclusive from reforming policing. As a nation, we can and must do both to improve public safety for every community. But any reforms that begin with defunding police is a non-starter.