The question of whether to “defund the police” was put on the ballot in two big cities Tuesday night and both advocates and opponents could claim victories.
But one thing that is obvious from the strong fervor and big money that went into the nationally-watched citywide initiatives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Austin, Texas, are signs the issue of law and order and whether to support the police will be major issues in the midterm elections of 2022.
In Minneapolis, a resounding 56% of voters gave a thumbs down to Question No. 2 — which would have transformed the Police Department into a Department of Public Safety and raised the number of health care workers involved in dealing with crime.
State Attorney General Keith Ellison and Rep. Ilhan Omar, both known leftist Democrats, were in the forefront of the effort fueled by the death of George Floyd last summer.
“I am grateful the people of Minneapolis rejected this misguided attempt to defund our police,” conservative state Sen. Michele Benson, the leading Republican hopeful for governor in 2022, told reporters on Wednesday. “We are already seeing the consequences of fewer law enforcement officers on our streets. Defunding our police only increases crime and makes our neighborhoods less safe.”
Benson, who hopes to take on Democrat Gov. Tim Walz, charged that he “did not have the courage to stand up to his radical base and actively campaign against this amendment to defund our police.”
She added that “I stand with our law enforcement as they combat violent crime and will work to bridge the divides that are harming our state.”
But in Austin, Texas, where the city council had cut the police budget by one-third, a measure to require the hiring of new police officers was defeated by 2-to-1.
Opponents of “Proposition A” were outspent by an estimated 4-to-1, and their efforts were primarily a grassroots campaign supported by state and municipal police associations.
Veteran Republican operative Matt Mackowiak quarterbacked the Prop-A effort.
Describing the situation in his city following the slashing of the police budget, Austin attorney Howard Hickman told Roaring Patriot: “The police in Austin will only respond in person to murders and sexual assaults. Robberies, burglaries, and muggings will only receive a police response if they are actually occurring when the police are called.
“If the perpetrators have left, the victims have to call 311 to get an offense number and then go online to fill out a police report. No police officer will ever show up to investigate. Currently people cannot get 311 to answer the phone.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Roaring Patriot. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.