Two years ago, my state of Minnesota was the game that lit the powder keg, resulting in months of violent protests, six deaths and a wave of “defund the police” rhetoric across America.
A police station, among hundreds of other buildings in Minneapolis, burned down. Rioters left more than $1 billion in damaged property, resulting in the highest number of civil unrest insurance claims in American history. Minnesotans have watched our twin towns turn into a ghost town following a rise in anti-law enforcement sentiment and policymaking across the United States.
Unfortunately, this crime wave was not localized solely to Minnesota. Portland, Oregon, which redirected $15 million from its police budget in 2020, has seen homes and small businesses trapped in an armed anarchist “autonomous zone.” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has pledged to cut $80 million from the Chicago police budget; just a year later, she publicly asked for help from the federal government to bring down the city’s rampant crime. New Orleans, the current US murder capital, has been forced to bring in civilians to issue traffic tickets amid citywide police shortages.
More and more often, the police are forced to make do with fewer resources, making them less equipped to respond to an ever-increasing crime rate. Since May 2020, New York Police Department response times for critical 9-1-1 calls for emergencies such as crimes in progress or emergency calls have increased by 25.3 seconds, or about 10 %. This lag translates into enough time for a criminal to escape, for stolen property to go missing, or for an officer or innocent person to be harmed.
Although the police can apprehend a suspect, there is no guarantee that the attacker will be removed from the street. Liberal cities across America are now paying the price for militant prosecutors more concerned with defending criminals than their own communities. These prosecutors follow the model of the former district attorney for Suffolk County, Mass. Rachael Rollins, who declined to prosecute entire categories of crimes, ranging from shoplifting to malicious destruction of property to drug possession with intent to distribute.
Those hurt by Democrats’ willful neglect of public safety deserve a voice. In July, I invited Brian Ingram to the House Financial Services Committee to share his first-hand experience of living and operating his business in a community where Democratic policies have significantly undermined law enforcement.
Brian is chef and owner of Hope Breakfast Bar in St. Paul. Since 2020 Brian and his staff have been forced to change hours of operation to avoid opening before sunrise or closing after sunset, rebuilding flight after flight and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in security systems.
Unfortunately, after another burglary — one of Seven times Brian’s restaurants were robbed within a year – the suspect was released from jail after just twenty-four hours. A few weeks later, the same person came back to rob the restaurant again.
Businesses like Brian’s – and the localities where they reside – have been caught in the crosshairs of this cycle of crime. And with fewer resources and stretched officers, law enforcement can do little to maintain an atmosphere of safety and security for the people who live and work there.
The American people, however, have signaled that they will not tolerate elected officials who promote a pro-crime agenda. They rebuke activist prosecutors like San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who was recalled earlier this year. Unfortunately, top Democrats still don’t seem to get the message. President Biden even rewarded Rachael Rollins’ selective law enforcement with a promotion: she’s now US Attorney for Massachusetts.
The message from Democrats is clear: Crime-ridden communities are a fair price to pay to appease the extremist militants who torched cities across America just two years ago. Their policies are not about your safety, but about their own power. Americans should be able to trust their leaders to defend their way of life, not cower behind their own private security while the communities around them burn.
Last month, I joined Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (California), Republican Whip Steve Scalise (La.), Conference President Elise Stefanik (NY) and several of our fellow House Republicans in Pennsylvania as we were unveiling our commitment to America. The Commitment will guide our work at the next Congress, including a return to safe communities. It means having our law enforcement backs and giving them the resources and confidence they need to do their job. This means enforcing our laws, not treating them as suggestions that can be ignored. It means valuing the safety of American citizens.
We can take back what Democrats stole from us and our neighbors: the peace of mind that every child, family and home should be safe in their community. Guided by our commitment, we can live in our community without fear and invest in its future without hesitation. A safe America is within reach.
Tom Emmer represents Minnesota’s 6th district and is chairman of the Republican National Congressional Committee.