Crime & Safety

Amer⁠i⁠cans agree on publ⁠i⁠c safe⁠t⁠y

April 17, 2023

Crime & Safety

April 17, 2023

In the last couple of years, Americans have begun facing a new reality – an alarming uptick in crime. In fact, the latest federal crime statistics recorded a 29 percent increase in violent crime from 2020 to 2021. But even in the face of rapidly rising crime, many city leaders are choosing to prosecute fewer criminals than before, sending crime even higher as repeat offenders are arrested but quickly released and never face trial.

In Washington, D.C., for example, the DC U.S. Attorney’s office declined to prosecute 67 percent of those arrested who otherwise would have been tried in court. With two-thirds of arrested individuals facing no charges whatsoever, there’s little incentive not to commit a crime — as a result, crime in D.C. is up 23 percent in the last year alone. 

However, it’s not only a lack of prosecution that’s fueling D.C.’s crime wave. Deprived of its own forensic laboratory, D.C. has limited funds available to send evidence to outside labs, meaning only the most violent crimes have any chance of facing forensic investigation. As seen with all too many other law enforcement departments, stripping police agencies of the resources they need to effectively manage evidence means only the most violent of crimes can be fully investigated. That leaves victims of most other crimes, which include everything from theft to many types of assault, without any hope of justice. 

Perhaps one of the worst results of this lack of resources is the national backlog of at least 100,000 untested rape kits, leaving all too many women and men, left knowing their rapists live freely and without consequences.

In cities where lack of enforcement is rampant, businesses have decided to give up and close down. For example, Walmart decided to close every single one of its stores in Portland, Oregon, Walmart after months of record-breaking theft and no response from the local government. These departures leave local residents deprived of not only jobs and financial resources for their local governments, but for some, the ability to easily purchase everyday essentials and prescription medications.

More than just wrecking the economy, unchallenged criminality destroys social trust, as Americans have no choice but to treat everyone with suspicion.   

This is not the environment that Americans deserve. Yet, it’s in this state of demoralization that civic engagement is most critical – with lives and livelihoods on the line, Americans can’t afford to keep living in communities that don’t take crime seriously. 

As a survey commissioned by Our America shows, most Americans are on the same page about public safety and crime – 79 percent of Americans support stronger sentences for violent criminals while 75 percent want to fully fund the police to ensure they have the best tools, resources, and training they can. This means that by working together, by organizing fellow neighbors and citizens, it’s possible to overcome the anti-public-safety policies kept in place by a small, loud minority. 

By joining Our America, you can be part of the coalition uniting Americans across the country around the common-sense, bipartisan values and policies that will ensure every American can enjoy the right to safety and security. If you’re ready for change, sign up for our newsletter to be informed of our latest developments and get connected with other leaders in your community as we fight to rebuild an America worthy of our founder’s dreams.