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Crime & Safety

How reduc⁠t⁠⁠i⁠on ⁠i⁠n pol⁠i⁠ce led ⁠t⁠o a r⁠i⁠se ⁠i⁠n cr⁠i⁠me

By: Gabriel Nadales / April 24, 2023

Gabriel Nadales

National Director, Our America

Crime & Safety

April 24, 2023

In 2020, activist Vicky Osterweil published her book, “In Defense of Looting”, in which she argued that looting and rioting are good for society because they drive forward social change. Osterweil also argues that rioting and looting are great examples of “non-violent” activism because there are no real victims.

As Osterweil puts it, “in terms of potential crimes that people can commit against the state, it’s basically nonviolent. You’re mass shoplifting. Most stores are insured; it’s just hurting insurance companies on some level. It’s just money. It’s just property. It’s not actually hurting any people”.

While Osterweil’s claim appears dubious on its face, we now have real proof that it is false.
In November 2022, a small business in Portland, OR named Rains PDX was forced to shut down after 15 burglaries and constant shoplifting. The day the owner shut down her store, she posted a letter on the storefront that read: 

“Small businesses (and large) cannot sustain doing business, in our city’s current state. We have no protection, or recourse, against the criminal behavior that goes unpunished. Do not be fooled into thinking that insurance companies cover losses. We have sustained 15 break-ins … we have not received any financial reimbursement since the 3rd.”

Rains PDX is not the only store that has closed down – in fact, Walmart also shut its doors in the city. Meanwhile, Albuquerque, NM residents were not surprised when their Walmart shut down as police responded to 708 calls at or near the store in 2022. Similarly, Wawa stores closed down two locations in Philadelphia, PA while the Whole Foods flagship store in San Francisco recently closed its doors one year after it first opened. All due to crime – and those are just a few examples. 

It’s a fairly simple concept – looting leads to businesses being forced to shut down, which leads to people losing their jobs, which destroys economic opportunity and contributes to rising crime. Americans deserve to live in cities that are protected from all crime, especially violent crime.

There are plenty of options for creating economic opportunities which will help reduce crime. But one common-sense policy which can immediately help turn the tide against violent criminals is to properly fund the police so police departments can hire more police officers, provide adequate training and equipment, and innovate their strategies to include more community policing.

To take one of those examples – adding police officers would has a direct effect on increased public safety. In fact, the data shows that if police departments were to increase their police force by 10% there would be a 3 to 7% reduction in crime.

But fully funding the police isn’t just a good idea – it is also extremely popular among a cross-section of Americans. As a national survey commissioned by Our America found more than 75% of Americans support fully funding the police. This survey echoed a similar 2021 survey conducted by USA Today and Ipsos which found that 77% of Americans want more police deployed on street patrols, while only 22% of Americans supported the “defund the police” movement.

Despite Osterweil’s claims, looting and stealing are not victimless crimes – they hurt real people. But not only that, but allowing these crimes also contributes to the increasing violent crime within communities. When Americans live in fear of crime, it’s impossible to pursue opportunity and achieve the promise of the American Dream.

It is clear that Americans deserve to live in cities that are protected from violent crime, and fully funding the police is a popular and effective solution to this problem. By increasing the number of police officers on patrol, there can be a significant reduction in crime rates – and that will benefit all Americans.