Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The For-Profit Militarized Police State Is JoeBidenBama's Political Legacy



jacobinmag |  Defund the police” has become a nationwide mantra, and for good reason: budget data from across the country show that spending on police has far outpaced population growth and drained resources from other public priorities.

Basically, our cities have been siphoning money from stuff like education and social services and funneling the cash into ever-larger militarized security forces.

Nationally, the numbers are stark: between 1977 and 2017, America’s population grew by about 50 percent, while state and local spending on police grew by a whopping 173 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to data from the Urban Institute. In other words, the rate of police-spending growth was triple the rate of population growth.

Chicago and New York embody the trends.

The former has been losing population over the last decade. At the same time, Mayor Rahm Emanuel grew the police budget by 27 percent during his eight-year term, to the point where Chicago now spends more than 38 percent of its general fund on police. Those increases coincided with a spate of police brutality scandals, as well as budget cuts that resulted in teacher layoffs and the mass closure of Chicago public schools. And yet Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, has been pushing a new 7 percent increase in the police budget.

In New York, it’s a similar story. Back in 2008, the city spent $4.1 billion on its police force, according to City Council documents. Twelve years later, the city is spending $6 billion on its police force. That’s a 46 percent increase during a period in which the city’s population growth was essentially flat. A new report by New York City comptroller Scott Stringer notes that in the last five years alone, spending on police rose by 22 percent, driven by a 6 percent increase in the number of officers on the force.

All this happened during a period when the city experienced many years of budget cuts to social servicesandschools. Indeed, as Public Citizen points out, New York’s police budget is now “more than the city spends on health, homelessness, youth development and workforce development combined.”

These are hardly anomalies, as illustrated by a Center for Popular Democracy report looking at twelve major cities. That analysis concluded that “governments have dramatically increased their spending on criminalization, policing, and mass incarceration while drastically cutting investments in basic infrastructure and slowing investment in social safety net programs” to the point where today, “police spending vastly outpaces expenditures in vital community resources and services.”