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From funding to staffing, stressed time for police

Oct. 13-17 was designated as national police week across the nation, an observance that went largely unreported thanks to the liberal media outlets.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, events honoring those officers killed in the line of duty were pushed back to last week.

This is a critical time for police departments across the country. Before this year, hiring for officers was already in a five-year decline but the situation worsened into racial rioting in a number of liberally run big cities after the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis.

Last month, the National Police Foundation reported 86 percent of the departments nationwide are experiencing a shortage.

Calls for local officials to cut police spending and “reimagine” the purpose of law enforcement were spurred by Democratic politicians on the far left. Liberal representatives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts have called for the complete abolishing of police departments.

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s statement that policing “can’t be reformed” and should be abolished was endorsed by Hollywood celebrity activists like John Legend, Jane Fonda and the rapper, Lizzo.

After the police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old who a police body camera showed charging at two people with a knife, basketball star LeBron James presented a photo of the officer believed to have shot and killed the girl. “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY,” James tweeted, an apparent reference to the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.

Although most Hollywood celebrities toe the party line for liberal Democrats, Morgan Freeman is one Hollywood celebrity who has spoken out against calls to defund the police. In a recent interview regarding ongoing protests against racially motivated police brutality, Freeman stated that aside from all the negativity around it, police work is very necessary and that most of them are guys that are doing their job.

Frankie Faison, another black American actor who co-stars with Freeman on their upcoming film “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain,” agreed with Freeman’s assessment of law enforcement and does not favor defunding the police.

Mounting crime statistics are not helping Democratic politicians and liberal activists defend their liberal position to “reimagine” or defund police. According to new federal-government data, last year saw the largest increase in homicides on record, with some 21,500 homicides, nearly 5,000 more than in 2019. That 29 percent spike far outpaces the previous record increase of 12.7 percent set in 1968.

Mainstream media outlets, which tend to portray police as racist bad guys rather than people serving and protecting their communities, also ignored the fact that more police officers died in the line of duty in 2020 than in any other year since 1974.

COVID-19 is also adding to the workload on police departments. With more people at home feeling stressed and unhappy, the coronavirus pandemic has interrupted or even eliminated violence-interruption programs that have been effective in reducing gun crime. More guns on the street fuels more shootings, creating a vicious cycle.

Vaccine mandates in many cities are also stretching police departments, especially in the Pacific Northwest. In the event that hundreds are fired for defying the city’s COVID vaccine mandate, the Seattle Police Department and the city’s fire department began implementing new operational guidelines.

The city fire department canceled all nonessential training and community events.

And starting last week, all available police employees from detectives to trainers were notified to be prepared to handle 911 calls. The contingency plan comes on top of a staffing shortage that hit the department in 2020, which has been largely attributed to the “defund the police” movement. One source reported that 335 officers have left the Seattle Police Department in the last two years.

Police departments across the nation have had to deal with funding issues in the past but many now find themselves being stretched to the limit, both in resources and staffing.

Liberal buzz words like “reform,” “remake” or “reimagine” might sound good until one peels away the layers to expose the truth. With police departments losing personnel at a high rate, the burden of 911 emergency calls can overwhelm remaining staff officers.

Emergency response times once measured in seconds may now take minutes and when dealing in life and death issues, that should concern every American.

By Jim Zbick | tneditor@tnonline.com

The foregoing opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or Times News LLC.