Since 2020, police reform has been one of the largest platforms taken on by the Democratic Party. The death of George Floyd was leveraged by Democrats and Leftwing activists as a watershed moment exposing the “institutional racism” of America’s law enforcement which must be dismantled and remade in the image of the American Left.
But two years in, did Democrats overpromise and under-deliver? One New York publication, City & State New York, says “yes,” after analyzing proposed police reforms in New York City with the reality on the ground today.
Through contrasting the policing policies of New York City’s former mayor, Bill De Blasio, with current incumbent, Eric Adams, City & State New York concludes that the latter has abandoned the “progressive” approach of the former, and ultimately betrayed the movement started in the summer of 2020.
“But the city’s second Black mayor now finds himself on the opposite side of the police reform debate. While he once stood in solidarity with Black Lives Matter demonstrators, local leaders of the protest movement have reacted to many of his new policing policies with vitriol,” the publication notes on the reaction from activists on the Adams’ Administration stance on policing.
The article compares the promises made by Democrats in New York in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd to the policies currently enacted by Adams’ city hall:
Defund the Police
- In 2020, De Blasio and City Council promised to cut $1bn from the NYPD budget, including a $345 million reduction in operating expenses
- By FY2022, New York’s budget raised NYPD operating expenses by $465 million, exceeding pre-2020 levels
- NYPD Undercover Crime Unit
- In 2020, amidst pressure from activists, De Blasio’s NYPD disbanded its “anti-crime unit” which had over 600 undercover agents, but was targeted for its “notorious violence,” stop & frisk policies, and the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner in police custody
- In 2022, Adams reorganized the anti-crime units into smaller, rebranded roles called Neighborhood Safety Teams, equipped with body cameras and less conspicuous uniforms (not undercover)
- The Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act, passed in June 2020, “made it so a police officer who injures or kills someone by using ‘a chokehold or similar restraint’ could be charged with a class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.”
- By 2022, police unions had successfully sued and got the law overturned at the NY Supreme Court, only to have that ruling reversed this year by an appellate court, reinstating the law. Adams office and police unions call for the law to be rewritten as it is currently written “will constrain police officers from being able to apprehend dangerous individuals”
For critics on the Left, New York City is a microcosm of the Democratic Party’s inability to maximize the effects of the police reform movement to enact the entirety of their agenda. In many cases, such as New York, Washington, DC, and Minneapolis, “Defund” efforts were reversed. In Congress, failure to secure bi-partisan policies at the national level meant the status quo would continue. But beyond the partisan priorities is the reality that many of these policies led to increased crime across the country in major cities that adopted them. In short, most of these policies were failures, unsupported by the broader public and Democrats “overpromised” because many of these sweeping changes were not popular in the first place.
Image Credit: Photo by Flow Clark on Unsplash