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Crime and Punishment

Crimen y castigo, EFE

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EX-PRESIDENT Trump returned last week to Washington, DC, for the first time since leaving the White House. There he spoke before the America First Agenda Summit hosted by the America First Policy Institute (AFPI), a conservative foundation established last year by former officials of his administration. The AFPI was founded to warn how the U.S. has become a “cesspool of crime” where “there is no longer respect for the law, and there certainly is no order.”

As harsh as this diagnosis sounds, the reality is that Trump is right. Insecurity in our communities has skyrocketed since 2020. This is thanks to socialist policies adopted in Democrat cities and states that demonize the Police and treat criminals not as challenges to the safety of the citizenry but as mere victims of their social circumstances.

For example, from 2020 to 2021, there was a 33% increase in homicides in America’s major cities. In the same way, violent crime — including rape, sexual assault, robbery, and murder— increased from 5% in 2021 to 40% in 2022 in Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of a police officer in 2020 unleashed unprecedented and unjust criticism and allegations against the police. Unbelievably, leftist activists hold the police responsible for violence and criminal activity in urban communities, particularly inner-city communities.

They accuse the police of systemic racism and of engaging in abusive behavior and practices that encourage African Americans and Hispanics to enter a lifelong cycle of crime and incarceration. Under the banner of “defunding the police,” they have demanded a series of outlandish reforms to the police and criminal justice system embraced and implemented by Democrat mayors and governors.

Police have essentially their hands tied. Police departments around the country suffered a substantial reduction in their budgets, and their officers were greatly limited— in their discretion— to stop suspicious activities and to use force to prevent crime. The average police officer is now afraid of being sued for simply doing their job. Because of this, police officers often choose not to intervene or not to intervene as they should in a situation that could be dangerous to the public.

Also, legislation was passed so that individuals accused of committing various violent crimes are not subject to bail and can be quickly released. Even Democrat prosecutors have stopped prosecuting less severe offenses and have reduced the sentences of people convicted of felonies, many of whom reoffended upon release.

We should not be surprised that all this has created chaos and insecurity in our cities. Criminals feel emboldened, and victims ignored, while minority communities are disproportionately affected. In 2021, in New York City, African Americans and Hispanics accounted for 90.7% of murder victims, 96.9% of gun crime victims, 73.2% of rape victims, 71.5% of robbery victims, and 79.8% of felony assault victims.

So far, Democrats have been unwilling to acknowledge the problem or have tried to minimize it. Some emphasize that criminal activity in the inner cities was worse in the 1980s, which, while true, does not mean that the current situation is not extremely serious.

Suddenly, in the face of a mid-term election in which they are not doing well, some Democrats, particularly those in competitive races, are beginning to publicly admit the existence of a crisis. Still, they limit themselves to saying that more funds must be given to the police. They do not discuss dismantling the other policies that have led us to the terrible situation we find ourselves in.

Their sincerity is frankly questionable. It is tough to believe that the same people who just two years ago were champions of “defunding the police” or were the ones limiting the police to maintain law and order now want to support the police adequately.

President Biden himself, while now claiming to support the police, continues to promote policies that limit their ability to enforce the law. Just two months ago, he signed another executive order that aims to restrict police discretion to use force, establish additional measures to discipline police officers, and prohibit police departments from acquiring—with federal government assistance— non-lethal tools such as armed vehicles or devices like concussion grenades used to deter the escalation of potentially violent situations.

Trump is right when he says that “our great police know what to do,” but that we should “allow them do it.” The only way to end this wave of death and violence is to urgently reverse Democrat policies that limit the police’s ability to act.

Alfonso Aguilar es de Senior VP and Political Director de El American, exjefe de la Oficina de Ciudadanía de los Estados Unidos durante la administración del presidente George W. Bush y presidente del Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. // Alfonso Aguilar is the Senior VP and Political Director of El American and former head of the Office of United States Citizenship during the administration of President George W. Bush and president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.

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