Biden’s Department of Justice has given towns and cities $1.6billion to battle the dramatic rise in violent crime
President Joe Biden‘s Department of Justice will distribute $1.6 billion in grants to towns and cities to help reduce the dramatic rise in violent crime after at least 12 major U.S. cities broken annual homicide records in 2021.
The grant awards will go to programs across the country ‘designed to reduce violent crime,’ according to the Justice Department. The programs include task forces, crime prevention and domestic violence programs, the courts, and treatment and correction programs.
‘The Department of Justice is committed to supporting our state and local partners to combat crime across the country,’ said Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement. ‘This latest round of funding will deliver critical public safety resources, helping public safety professionals, victim service providers, local agencies and nonprofit organizations confront these serious challenges.’
Last year, for the first time in four years, the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased when compared with the previous year, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2020.
The murder rate rose by nearly 30 per cent with about 21,500 murders, or 6.5 per 100,000 people. Aggravated assault, the most common form of violent crime, rose 12 per cent.
In the US, violent crimes are defined as incidents involving force or the threat of force. The main offences reported under violent crime are murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape and sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault.
The rise in 2020 crimes syncs with the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a Minnesota black man, by a white police officer.
President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice will distribute $1.6 billion in grants to towns and cities to help reduce the dramatic rise in violent crime – above, Attorney General Merrick Garland
Violent crime has been on the rise – last week a Democratic congresswoman was hijacked at gunpoint by five teens in Philadelphia
In New York, video footage caught a man ripping the purse off an eldery woman with a cane and dragging her from an elevator
In Chicago, murders are at a 25-year high, with 793 recorded by Christmas in a city with 2.7 million people
Additionally, gun sale spiked during the pandemic and about a fifth of those sales were to first-time gun owners.
In 2020, gun sales were up by 64 per cent from the previous year with the most sales in June when the Floyd protests were at their peak, according to The Trace, which tracks gun sales. The government does not track the number of guns sold in the US and the number of background checks offers an incomplete picture as many gun sales are private.
The money from DOJ comes as many cities are dealing with the fallout from the Floyd protests.
Some cities – like like San Francisco, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and New York City – saw proposals to cut police budgets in favor of cycling that money to community programs as ‘defund the police’ became a popular rallying cry in the wake of Floyd’s death.
The DOJ’s grant program will give $271.9 million to police departments: with $187 million to 56 state law enforcement agencies and over $84.9 million to more than 900 cities and counties, according to a tally by CNN.
Among the cities getting grants were Chicago with $2,407,095 and Seattle at $771,127. Philadelphia is eligible for $1,499,662; Baltimore can receive $1,364,052; New York City is eligible for $4,095,916 and Los Angeles may receive $2,692,835.
In Chicago, murders are at a 25-year high, with 793 recorded by Christmas in a city with 2.7 million people. By comparison, New York City, which has a population of more than eight million, has had 479 murders by mid-December. Additionally in Chicago, criminal sexual assault was up 132 percent; robbery 74 percent; theft 51 percent.
New York City, according to crime statistics published by the NYPD, saw nearly all types of crimes, including shootings, murders and auto grand larceny, have almost doubled since pre-pandemic times.
There have been 1,470 shootings, 443 murders and 9,595 cases of auto grand larceny, according to the latest data for the year.
At least dozen large mid-tier cities across the country have already broken their annual homicide records
At least dozen large mid-tier cities across the country have already broken their annual homicide records this year
And at least 12 cities saw their homicide rates hit new records in 2021. The numbers weren’t isolated to a specific region or area of the country, an indication of a nation-wide trend.
Those cities include: Portland, Ore.; Indianapolis; Toledo, Ohio; St. Paul, Minn.; Rochester, N.Y.; Philadelphia; Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Ken.; Baton Rouge; Albuquerque; Tucson, Ariz.; and Austin, Texas.
Austin recorded 88 homicides by early December, shattering the previous high of 59 in 1984.
There were 230 homicides in Indianapolis by early December, breaking the previous record of 215 set just last year.
Philadelphia, a city of roughly 1.5 million people, has had more homicides this year (521 as of Dec. 6) than the nation’s two largest cities, New York and Los Angeles (352 as of Nov. 27).
Philadelphia also saw itself in the spotlight after Democratic Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon was carjacked at gunpoint by five teens in Philadelphia last week.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, in a press briefing last week, said the administration was increasing its law enforcement efforts, including putting more officers on the street.
‘We have been stepping up federal law enforcement efforts for some time now,’ she said. ‘While we’re giving communities historic levels of funding through the Rescue Plan to fight crime, make neighborhoods safer by supporting programs to interrupt violence, hiring additional law enforcement officers and providing them with the resources and tools they’ve asked for, we’re also helping communities through initiatives like the COPS program, which is putting 1,000 more cops on the beat.’
Experts told ABC News there are a number of reasons possibly connected to the jump in homicides, including strained law enforcement staffing, a pronounced decline in arrests and continuing hardships from the pandemic, but that there is no clear answer across the board.
The rise in crime coincided with the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder – above a June 2020 protest in Minneapolis
Protesters gathered in front of the White House in May 2020 to protest Floyd’s death
Officer Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran in the force, claimed she accidentally shot Daunte Wright (right) when she reached for her gun; she was convicted in his death
Additional Justice Department money went to jurisdictions in Hennepin County, Minnesota – where four former police officers were charged in connection to Floyd’s murder and ex-cop Kim Potter was recently convicted for causing the death of Daunte Wright. The area received $590,659 in grants.
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, which sits right next to Kenosha County, is eligible for $922,735 from the DoJ. Recently a jury in Kenosha acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges, including first-degree intentional and first-degree reckless homicide, for killing two men and injuring a third during unrest in the city after the police shooting of Jacob Blake Jr.
The largest state recipients include $19,447,453 to California’s Board of State and Community Corrections, $14,531,729 to the office for the Governor of Texas, and $10,886,155 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The grants also come as FBI crime data shows that the number of arrests nationwide plummeted 24% in 2020, from the more than 10 million arrests made in 2019. The number of 2020 arrests — 7.63 million — is the lowest in 25 years.
There was also a surge in police officer retirements last year.
A workforce survey released in June by the Police Executive Research Forum found the retirement rate in police departments nationwide jumped 45% over 2020 and 2021.
And another 18% of officers resigned, the survey found, which coincided with Floyd protests and calls to defund law enforcement agencies.