Busting the ‘Defund the Police’ Myth

Despite Republican claims, police in the largest Democrat-run cities have not been defunded.

Photo shows a close-up of an officer pressing a button on his uniform.
A patrol officer in West Valley City, Utah, starts a body camera recording on March 2, 2015. (Getty/George Frey)

Republicans have spent the past two years accusing Democrats of trying to defund police departments. But the facts show that the police have not been defunded. In fact, not only have Democrats put more money into policing since fiscal year 2019, but they also spend more on policing than Republican-run cities. Here are the facts that disprove this myth:

  1. Democrat-run cities spend more money on policing than Republican-run cities, with the 25 largest Democrat-run cities spending 38 percent more on policing per capita than the 25 largest Republican-run cities.
  2. Of the 25 largest cities, 20 saw increases in their police budgets from FY 2019 to FY 2022. Twenty-one of these cities are run by Democrats.
  3. The 25 largest cities saw their police budgets grow by a total of 5 percent from FY 2019 to FY 2022.
  4. Democrat-run cities have more police per capita than Republican-run cities. The 25 largest Democrat-run cities employ 75 percent more police officers per capita than the 25 largest Republican-run cities.
  5. At the federal level, President Joe Biden and Democrats sponsored and secured passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which provides federal resources to support police departments. Republicans voted against President Biden’s ARPA, which included $350 million in federal funding to hire more police.
  6. Cities across the country, both big and small, are using funds provided by President Biden and Democrats under the American Rescue Plan to support law enforcement. For example:
    • The city of Houston used ARPA funds to create the Domestic Abuse Response Team program to address “rising domestic violence during the pandemic.”
    • The ARPA allowed Kansas City to hire up to 150 police officers and put aside $12.4 million for the Violent Crimes Division.
    • In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the mayor used funds for a number of crime reduction efforts, including “gun violence reduction strategies in areas dominated by gun violence and increase community policing.”
    • In Whiteland, Indiana, the Whiteland Police Department plans to use $409,200 to buy “six police cars, 14 laptops or tablets to be installed in the cars, 15 body-worn cameras, a body-worn camera for the department’s K9 officer, 14 ballistic vests and helmets, 15 tasers and cartridges, up to two drones, four desktop computers and $15,500 worth of miscellaneous supplies.”

Despite the rhetoric, Democrats are the ones who have placed an emphasis on funding law enforcement. The rest is just a political myth.

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