While 2023 might bring optimism with declines in certain violent offenses, the surge in carjackings and lingering high murder rates cannot be ignored. Widespread fear of violence threatens our common sense of safety and breeds disbelief in our government’s ability to provide security. Women feel particularly vulnerable as America continues to grapple with the aftermath of 2020, “defund the police” rhetoric, and dwindling community spirit.

Do you know how much crime affects our communities and safety? Play this “Two Truths and a Lie” game to find out. 

A. Crime remains markedly higher than in 2019. 
B. Women’s gun ownership has not risen in recent years. 
C. Many police departments across the nation are grappling with a decline in staffing. 

A. TRUTH! Recent data from the first six months of 2023 shed some light on changing crime patterns, and these findings necessitate careful contemplation and action. Levels of nearly all offenses, from homicide to aggravated assault, have shown a decline or remained relatively stable in 2023 when compared to the previous year. 

However, it’s worth noting that despite the seeming decline in some types of violent crime, crime still remains markedly higher than in 2019—the year before the tumultuous events of the COVID pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent protests and “defund the police movement.” The Council on Criminal Justice’s July study underscores this stark reality, revealing that there were 24% more homicides in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2019. Moreover, there has been a significant spike in motor vehicle theft, marking a 33.5% surge from 2022. 

B. LIE! From 2005 to 2020, there has been a 77% increase in women’s gun ownership. Such a significant rise does not occur in a vacuum; it likely reflects deep-seated fears and perceived threats to personal safety. For black women, this fear is even more pronounced. The backdrop against which these figures emerge is riddled with chilling data on domestic violence and femicide—the intentional murder of women because of their sex. The Violence Policy Center (VPC) reported in 2019 that 90% of murdered women in the U.S. were known to their male perpetrators. An overwhelming majority of these women were either wives or intimate partners of these men. The reality becomes even grimmer when focusing on communities of color. This landscape further underscores the pressing need for spaces exclusively for women.

C. TRUTH! Data underscore the scale of the challenge. Resignations surged by nearly 50% in 2022 compared to figures from 2019. Even as retirements saw a slight dip in 2022, they were still nearly 20% higher than those in 2019. The cumulative effect of these trends is that total sworn staffing has reduced by nearly 5% in three years. This decline in numbers poses not only an operational challenge but significantly impacts the potential implementation of solutions that increase safety and stability.

The significance of a full-strength police department lies not just in numbers but in its ability to adopt and implement strategies like community-based policing, which have been shown to build trust in communities and drive down crime

Bottom Line: It is incumbent upon our political and community leaders to reaffirm their unwavering commitment to the law enforcement community. This commitment is not just in terms of resources but also in terms of respect and collaboration. 

The path forward for safer communities and trusted law enforcement lies in a multi-faceted approach. It requires robust funding for police, commitment to community-based policing, adoption of effective crime deterrence strategies, and fostering love for our communities and nation. 

To learn more, read the Policy Focus on how crime affects American communities and safety.