As the crime rate has continued to rise in the past few months, safety is a growing concern for many Americans throughout the country. In D.C., for example, there was a strong spike in crime within the first days of 2023. The spike has many D.C. residents worried, especially since the crime appears to target anyone in the city.
Earlier this year, for example, Minnesota Congresswoman Angie Craig was in her apartment building in D.C. when she was attacked by a 27-year-old inside her elevator. The attacker had been known to police for years and had over 25 bench warrants since 2015. The suspect cornered Rep. Craig in an elevator, then became violent when she refused to let him into her apartment, punching her in the face. Fortunately, Rep. Craig was able to fend off her attacker by throwing hot coffee at him and escaping before he could do further damage.
Unfortunately, scenes like this are becoming more common throughout the United States. A survey of 70 U.S. law enforcement agencies found that robberies were up by 13% while aggravated assaults increased by 3% in 2022. While current crime rates in the U.S. are nowhere near the crime epidemic of the 1990s, crime is still higher than pre-pandemic levels, leading many Americans to wonder, “What can be done?”
Fortunately, there are things that can be done.
Americans need common-sense investments in the people who are most able to protect all Americans – police officers. Fully funding the police can help departments hire more officers so they increase their patrol of dangerous areas and deter crime. Americans agree on fully funding the police, as we saw in a national survey commissioned by Our America which found that 75% of Americans support fully funding the police.
However, simply throwing money at the issue is not enough. We need to invest in the right areas to make the most significant impact. This means identifying the areas where funding is most needed and directing resources accordingly to achieve measurable results.
One key bi-partisan proposal backed by Congresswoman Angie Craig is trying to do just that – H.R. 1649 seeks to authorize $10 million in federal funding to help small and mid-sized police departments create what is known as community police departments.
Community policing police officers within a community to prevent crime. The emphasis is on building relationships with community members, promoting transparency and accountability, and addressing the underlying issues that contribute to crime such as poverty, lack of access to education and healthcare, and drug addiction.
In short – community-oriented policing involves a partnership between law enforcement and the communities they serve to identify and solve problems related to crime and public safety. That allows them to be proactive in preventing crime, which helps keep everyone safer.
The recent assault on Rep. Craig highlights the importance of ensuring that individuals who pose a danger to the community are apprehended and held accountable for their actions. The alleged attacker had a lengthy criminal record and had failed to appear in court for months. An engaged police department would have been able to bring him to justice before he had the opportunity to harm another person.
Fully funding the police can help ensure that individuals like this are brought to justice and that communities are kept safe. All Americans deserve well-funded police to serve and protect their communities.