Los Angeles County's top cop, Sheriff Alex Villanueva, says the far-left "defund the police" narrative and progressive officials are responsible for a worrying spike in violent crime.
What is the background?
Major cities across the U.S. have experienced a spike in violent crime this year.
In Los Angeles, for example, murders are up nearly 200%, Fox News reported. Through the first two months of 2021, there were 60 murders in Los Angeles County compared to just 21 during the same time period last year.
Portland is another major city experiencing a wave of homicide. There were 25 murders in Portland through the first three months of 2021 compared to just three during the same time period in 2020.
What did Villanueva say?
According to Villanueva, criminals emboldened by progressive law enforcement policies and the "defund the police" movement are behind the spike in violent crime.
Speaking with Fox News last Thursday, Villanueva specifically blamed new Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, the progressive lawman who has introduced quick reform to Los Angeles law enforcement after just months on the job.
"They need to really pick and choose very carefully because for them it's very easy to say, 'Oh yeah, all cops are bad,' and, 'Let's reform and defund the police,'" Villanueva said. "Yet they're the very first ones to pick up the 911 when someone's crawling over their back gate trying to get into their house."
The worrying direction of crime is not just new to 2021. In fact, violent crime, especially murder, was already particularly high in 2020.
"Last year, the United States tallied more than 20,000 murders — the highest total since 1995 and 4,000 more than in 2019. Preliminary FBI data for 2020 points to a 25% surge in murders — the largest single year increase since the agency began publishing uniform data in 1960," USA Today reported.
In fact, the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund found that murders rose and police activity dropped in cities where police were most criticized last year.
"This data confirms that in places where law enforcement saw the most resistance from community leaders and calls for less policing, we saw more homicides," LELDF president Jason Johnson said, the Washington Examiner reported.
"Progressive prosecutors made it clear that making arrests for drug and weapons crimes that will go unprosecuted only exposes officers to the risk of disciplinary action, lawsuits, and criminal prosecution. So, to mitigate that risk, police took a more passive approach," Johnson added.