Can defunding the police be squared with fear of insurrection?

Like most cities, Washington, D.C. is plagued by an increase in homicides and other violent crimes. Nonetheless, the city council seems determined to keep cutting D.C.’s police force.

Last year, the size of that force fell to around 3,500, well below the number once considered the minimum needed to enforce the law in the city. This year, some on the city council seek further cuts as they “reimagine” policing.

But the storming of the Capitol on January 6 may cause a rethink about the reimagining. That, at least, is the hope of D.C. officials still interested in fighting crime.

The city’s new acting police chief claims that the alleged growing and persistent threat of domestic terrorism warrants a strengthening of the police force. He says that a force of 4,000 officers is required “in light of the things we need to contend with now.”

Actually, that’s the number of officers needed to deal with the things the D.C. police has always had to contend with. D.C’s mayor sought a force of 4,000 back in 2019, before the loose talk about an insurrection commenced.

Domestic terrorism is not something the D.C. police force will have to contend with going forward. But by invoking the specter of it, the police chief hopes to force anti-police politicians to acknowledge that the city might need more police.

The trap proved easy for at least one police defunder to avoid. Council member Charles Allen said that the January 6 event shouldn’t influence the size of the police force because it’s not likely to be replicated. Allen gets high marks for honestly to go with low marks for concern about public safety.

Radical activist Christy Lopez, who led the DOJ’s investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri police force, took a shrewder approach to dealing with arguments based on January 6. She claimed that the policing failures of that day weren’t caused by lack of available officers or restrictions on what they could do. Instead, they were caused by lack of leadership, training, and — wait for it — “unconscious bias” that resulted in a failure to anticipate and prepare for “White terrorists.”

Clever as she is, Lopez still didn’t explain how a shrinking police force will be able to cope with a rise in violent crime and future “White terrorism.”

The reality is that a shrinking police force won’t be able to cope with traditional crime. The other reality is that D.C.’s left-wing politicians and activists don’t care.

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