In an effort to “defund the police,” a city council voted to cut its police force by 30 percent. Almost immediately after, the council members admitted the unintended consequences of their decision.
Following in the footsteps of the far-left platform of defunding and ultimately abolishing the police, one Vermont city is serving as a social experiment. With a population of just over 42,000 people, Burlington was the perfect location to test such a policy to see if it would viable for the larger politically progressive cities. Sadly, the results provide a sinister outlook for other cities hoping to do the same.
A year and a half after voting to cut the police force by 30 percent, the Burlington City Council lamented the decision. In fact, even the councilor who proposed the resolution and her fellow progressive council members have openly admitted that defunding the police was a terrible mistake.
According to NBC News, Progressive Party member Councilor Zoraya Hightower proposed that the city use attrition tactics to slash 30 percent of the force, decreasing the number of officers from 105 to 74. It would also end the school resource officer program and instead create a community outreach committee. Her resolution passed 9-3, and the pressure was slowly raised on law enforcement to cut back.
“We’re in a situation that I think nobody wanted us to get to,” said Councilor Zoraya Hightower.
“There’s a lot of damage that has been done in the last 16 months,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat.
As soon as the cut to the police force began, other officers began to leave in droves. Only five police officers were available to patrol the entire city at night and overtime costs soared. Once averaging about 95-percent effectivity, the department struggled to remain above 60-percent active-duty employees.
“The exit interviews have been pretty clear that it was about lack of support in a political sense, and a sense of saying, ‘This is not how I want to serve anymore. I don’t feel valued,'” Police Chief Jon Murad said.
For residents, the results of the Burlington City Council’s vote were devastating. Threats to public safety went up and quality of life dropped. Fights, open drug use, and other crimes increased. Still, citizens were too afraid to raise their concerns for fear that the progressives will label them “racist.”
“If you speak out against defunding the police force, you’re labeled a racist or, at least, an idiot that doesn’t understand the problem,” one business owner said.
Still, even the most progressive council members can’t deny their mistake. In a desperate yet fruitless attempt to combat the consequences of defunding the police, the council passed a resolution to increase the police department by 10 unarmed community service officers. The move has done little for the community.
After an independent analysis recommended that the city raise its officer cap, the council voted to increase the number of sworn officers to 79. The city also began offering $10,000 bonuses to its remaining officer in the hopes that it would prevent any more from quitting. Incredibly, the resolution passed 8-4 as Hightower, whose resolution triggered the problems, broke with her progressive colleagues.
When asked whether her initial proposal was too extreme, Hightower admitted, “I think that there’s an acknowledgment that these cuts went too fast for the pace of the alternatives.” Although she admits that she would do things differently, she has yet to apologize for the devastating consequences of her resolution, which have harmed countless citizens.
Fortunately, even the progressive council members are having to admit that their policies don’t work. In fact, they are far more harmful than the problem they are trying to combat.
Sadly, it is the citizens who are suffering the most from these progressive policies while their political representatives continue to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix their own mistakes. Perhaps voting in members who don’t allow the progressive narrative to dominate logic and reason would be the answer.