Democrats should campaign on actually funding the police

Democrats should campaign on actually funding the police
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While last week’s Democratic mayoral primary election in New York City hasn’t been called yet due to the new ranked-choice voting system, it’s becoming more and more likely that Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, will be Team Blue’s nominee to succeed the term-limited Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThree arrested for allegedly assaulting NYC hostess who asked for COVID-19 vaccine proof Letitia James holding private talks on running for New York governor: report Ocasio-Cortez defends attendance of Met Gala amid GOP uproar MORE in the general election. Democrats, including myself, should be breathing somewhat of a sigh of relief in that GOP hopes of painting the Democratic standard bearer of America’s largest city with the ‘Defund the Police’ moniker. It also doesn’t hurt that Adams spent more than two decades serving as an officer in both the New York City Transit Police and the NYPD, retiring from the latter agency with the rank of captain.

There is no question that New York City is a fairly progressive place, so it is even more meaningful that Democratic primary voters, at first glance, opted to back Adams over his more liberal opponent, Maya Wiley, on the initial vote tally. Wiley, the former Counsel to Mayor de Blasio had campaigned on redirecting one billion dollars from the NYPD’s annual budget as well as the reduction of over 2,000 officers. Despite the magnitude of COVID-19’s impact on the city and the loss of over 33,000 city residents to the virus, the recent spike of shootings and violent crimes took center stage in the inter-party primary fight.

According to the NYPD, last month saw a 73 percent increase in shootings as compared to the same time last year, with the city also witnessing a 22 percent jump in the overall crime rate. In the final weeks of the campaign, NY1/Ipsos released a poll indicating that 46 percent of voters cited crime and public safety as their top priority with 72 percent of respondents agreeing that the NYPD should actually increase their ranks.

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The race for New York’s next mayor and the backdrop of increasing violence in the streets is indicative of a larger crisis that Americans are seeing playing out in their own communities and towns. According to criminologists, “homicide rates in large cities were up more than 30 percent on average last year, and up another 24 percent for the beginning of this year.” With these violent crime statistics in mind, then-candidate Biden ran a similar campaign as Adams during the 2020 cycle, rejecting numerous efforts from the far left wing of the Democratic Party to “defund the police,” opting to actually campaign on a $300 million investment in policing.

That original $300 million investment in law enforcement has morphed into something far more significant in the wake of COVID-19 and calls for greater police accountability. Last week, in a speech from the East Room, the president announced the administration’s “comprehensive strategy to combat gun violence and other violent crime” with “a whole-of-government approach” anticipating even higher crime rates which typically occur during the summer months.

In a column in support of Biden’s plan in the Washington Post, Michael Gerson writes, “The details of Biden’s crime proposal make good sense. It begins with hiring more police officers, with funding from the American Rescue Plan’s $350 billion in state and local spending.” The plan also tackles many of the root causes that are fueling this rise in violent crime by identifying and punishing gun traffickers and “rogue gun dealers” as well as investing billions of dollars in community violence prevention efforts. As Gerson goes on to say in his column, “This approach to crime may not be revolutionary, but it is rational, practical and well-devised.” 

Democrats can win in 2022 on the issue of crime reduction, criminal justice reform and actually increasing funds for cops and community policing resources — taking away a key campaign argument that the GOP has been trying to advance, even before the 2020 election. Who could forget former President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE’s dystopian attack ads with current footage from American streets during the Trump administration’s time in office to make the case that his fellow citizens would be less safe in a Biden presidency?

The Biden administration is flipping the script on these Republicans attacks, having learned a critical lesson during the 2020 election, especially with regard to down-ballot races and the “defund” attacks.

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When Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee — the committee tasked with flipping the House to GOP control in 2022 — was asked by Fox News reporter Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceYarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Budget chairman: Debt ceiling fight 'a ridiculous position to be in' NIH director expects booster shots to be expanded, despite recommendation MORE about whether it was actually Republicans who were defunding the police by voting in lock-step against the American Rescue Plan, Banks could only fall back on tired talking points and utterances of “the Squad.”

With just under 500 days until the midterm elections, Democrats can rally behind the president’s practical efforts to reduce violent crime — by actually increasing resources for the police and thereby removing one critical line of attack from GOP hopefuls.

NOTE: This post has been updated from the original to correct the name of the committee led by Rep. Banks.

Kevin Walling (@kevinpwalling) is a Democratic strategist, vice president at HGCreative, co-founder of Celtic Strategies, and a regular guest on Fox News, Fox Business and Bloomberg TV and Radio.