Last week, the San Francisco Chronicle published a ground-breaking news item that did not get much attention in the national press. Even when retweeted, the original story led readers to a strict paywall, suddenly enforcing a roadblock.
But it showed how far San Francisco, one of America's most vibrant and beautiful cities, had fallen. The country's most liberal governor, Gavin Newsom of California, had just announced that he would deploy the California Highway Patrol and the California National Guard to assist the San Francisco Police Department control fentanyl trafficking in San Francisco. It was a solemn admission that the local police force, whose motto is to provide "Safety with Respect," had failed miserably.
That San Francisco has become an utterly ungovernable mess is evident to anyone visiting the city these days. Homeless encampments, public urination and defecation, rampant drug and needle use, petty theft, and bullying are now commonplace in the Golden City.
Whole Foods, which opened in the downtown area just a year ago with much fanfare, quietly shut its doors two weeks ago to protect the safety of its employees. It joined other retailers like CVS and Walgreens in announcing store closures. Davis Smith, Founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, posted a horrifying account on LinkedIn describing the context that led to the closure of his downtown store. It is a must-read for anyone wanting to know more about the grim crime situation in a city that boasts deep connections to several Democratic national stars, including VP Kamala Harris, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Congressman Ro Khanna.
The standard approach of the media is to examine federal crime statistics and selectively use data to support their narrative. Even Gov. Newsom, a former San Francisco Mayor responsible for the current mess, cleverly noted that the city has a violent crime rate lower than comparable cities. His claim brings no comfort to the millions of people who visit, live, or work in San Francisco.
Chicago is another example of how crime statistics belie the underlying situation. According to the city, violent crime is rapidly falling in Chicago. But most people would hesitate to ride New York's subways after dark or walk by Chicago's Loop. They would justifiably repeat the quote that Mark Twain popularized: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
For a more accurate measure of how crime is shaping America, we looked at data reported by the police chiefs of 70 urban areas from Albuquerque to Wichita. This data simply tabulated the raw numbers of crimes entered into police databases. While homicide and rape cases fell slightly, robbery cases increased significantly from 2021 to 2022, by nearly 13%. Aggravated assaults also increased by 2.5% from 2021. In both cases, the 2021 numbers were already records.
Some liberal explanation generally accompanies any media reporting on crime, trying to provide cover to Democrats who primarily run urban neighborhoods. Appearing on the PBS Newshour last year, Thomas Abt, from the Council on Criminal Justice, blamed Covid. "As people know, the pandemic has placed everyone under incredible pressure, but, in particular, it has placed disproportionate pressure on poor communities of color, precisely where community gun violence concentrates." Abt also blamed gun sales and social unrest following George Floyd's murder.
For the ordinary citizen, attempting to understand the root cause of crime is much less relevant than concrete steps to solve the issue. Leftist Chicago Mayor-Elect Brandon Johnson's vow to get to the root causes of crime will likely evoke a weary yawn around the nation. For three decades, the Democratic Party has been uttering all the usual poll-tested themes of combating systemic issues, increasing youth employment, and improving mental health services to lower crime - but from Baltimore to Los Angeles, the situation has only worsened. The average voter wants to go about life without worrying about being assaulted or having their property stolen. Embedded in the crime story is how our porous southern border and the illegal migration of 5.5 million individuals have made America's neighborhoods unsafe and unliveable.
Tackling crime is a winning GOP issue. A TIPP poll conducted recently for the National Sheriffs’ Association and the accompanying analysis by Jim Skinner, the Chairman of the group's Government Affairs Committee, show that the widespread crime problem in the U.S. needs urgent action.
The GOP should draw a sharp contrast from the Democrats by pressing ahead with more substantial crime sentences instead of the Democrats' priority of letting criminals go scot-free for minor offenses. They should increase funding to build prisons for violent criminals and double the DEA budget to catch drug gangs related to fentanyl distribution, including reimbursing state National Guard troops to help capture and incarcerate offenders.
President Bill Clinton and the then GOP House led by Newt Gingrich worked together to hire and deploy 100,000 police officers. That was 30 years ago. Adjusted for population growth and the horrific crimes in all major urban areas today, the GOP nominee for President should propose hiring 150,000 police officers, with active support from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor's mansion by exploiting the Democrats' weakness on a single issue: education. Next year, the entire GOP can run on crime and expect to duplicate Youngkin's success.
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