The strength and beauty of America is that our country unites people of all races around shared values of faith, freedom, family, and equality. Our history is not perfect, but what makes America unique are founding principles which compel us to continually improve — and we have. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is opposed to this ideal of unity. It seeks to fracture America by dividing her citizens by the color of their skin.
CRT is the origin of the “policing is systemically racist” myth. Where it has influenced policing and criminal justice policy, it has resulted in disaster. In major Democrat-run American cities, politicians supporting Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory have broken policing and increased violent crime, with the overwhelming majority of victims being black. Violent crime is off the charts with homicide increases as high as 533% in certain areas.
The shocking amount of violence and murder is primarily devastating black communities in these cities, where the overwhelming majority of both victims and offenders are black. In 2020, the number of black homicide victims increased by almost 1,200 from the previous year to more than 8,600 — with at least 90% killed by black assailants.
Americans clearly see that the real violence epidemic in black communities is not systemic police racism — as BLM, Democrats, and the media would have you believe — but crime. This is what makes Joe Biden’s recently announced plan to end the surge in violence so outrageous. The Democrat plan, primarily focusing on targeting gun dealers and sending in social workers, will do almost nothing to stop the bloodbath. On the contrary, by ignoring the real and immediate problem — violent criminals and gang members who need to be arrested and incarcerated — violence will increase, and many more black lives will be needlessly lost.
We know how to reduce crime — it has been done before. In the early 1990’s, and for more than 20 years after, the New York Police Department (NYPD), Chicago Police Department (CPD), and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) achieved amazing reductions in violent crime and homicides. Tens of thousands of young men’s lives were saved, mostly black lives. No American institution is more dedicated to saving black lives than the police. This extraordinary accomplishment was the result of a four-part strategy:
- Police were assigned to high crime areas where they proactively engaged and arrested violent offenders.
- Cities implemented the Broken Windows policing model, based on the theory that when non-violent public disorder crimes are tolerated, it results in community fear increase and more serious crime. Police departments engaged in quality-of-life law enforcement, preventing violent crime.
- Police built trust and communication through partnerships with the community.
- Local and county prosecutors worked with police to hold offenders accountable for their crimes, aggressively pursued convictions, and obtained appropriate sentences. This is common sense policing, and it works.
As a plan which knocked down violent crime to historic lows, this four-part strategy is unsurpassed and would show the same results if implemented now. The only major addition that we would need to add would be the long-term minimizing of violent crime by targeting its root cause — fatherless families.
But even the original strategy is not being used today to respond to the violent crime wave. Let us examine why.
America is under attack from within by elites who seek to bury traditional American values and rebuild the nation in their image. Their path to power has been a march through our cultural institutions to capture education, media, Hollywood, the arts, courts, and law enforcement. Some have been lost already, and survival of the law and the police hangs in the balance.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a violent, Marxist movement whose stated aims have included: “Defund the Police,” abolish prisons, overthrow the United States and capitalism, and that “we disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement” (a phrase now erased from their website). Critical Race Theory shapes BLM’s rhetoric and objectives.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a neo-Marxist, racist ideology professing the United States is an illegitimate, systemically racist nation that must be torn down; all white people are inherently racist oppressors; all black people are inherently victims of racism; and black people are unable to exert agency in their personal lives or learn and achieve on an equal basis with whites. CRT teaches that all American institutions (particularly the police) are designed to perpetuate systemic racism. Many believers of Critical Race Theory do not want police reform, they want police abolition.
BLM Democrats have effectively sabotaged all components of the violence reduction strategy, resulting in a crime catastrophe. To turn it around, we must consider how they have subverted it.
First, the BLM lie of systemic police racism has been ceaselessly repeated as propaganda by Democrats and their media. This dangerous myth has been met with almost zero resistance from police chiefs and from only by a handful of Republicans. It has undermined police authority, legitimacy, and effectiveness. Proactive policing is almost dead — but not just because of “Defund the Police” budget cuts.
Lacking support, cops have pulled back from proactive patrol. To appease the BLM mob, Democrat mayors will not support officers if they are involved in a high-profile shooting or use-of-force incident — regardless of the facts. Police are immediately fired or criminally charged without due process or investigations. Consequently, police are not only pulling back, but they are also pulling out. Veteran officers are retiring in record numbers and new police applicants are hard to find.
Demonizing the police has escalated the war on cops. When people believe police are racist, they are not motivated to support, respect, comply, or cooperate. The result is just the opposite. Resisting, fighting, attacking, and even assassinating police officers becomes justified. Already this year, more than 150 police officers have been shot, 28 shot dead, and ambush attacks have increased 91%.
Second, using the systemic police racism myth as justification, Democratic mayors, city councils, and legislatures have defunded departments and enacted anti-police/pro-criminal laws and policies. These include eliminating qualified immunity for officers, dangerous use-of-force policy restrictions, and ending cash bail. All have destroyed police morale and effectiveness while enabling criminals and lawlessness.
Broken Windows policing and enforcement has been abolished by Democrats. In parts of California, a thief can steal up to $950 worth of merchandise without a felony charge. Even where laws prohibiting public drinking, urination and illegal drug use are still on the books, or where trespassing, theft, prostitution, vandalism, and general disorder still exist, some Democratic prosecutors refuse to enforce them.
Third, the myth of systemic police racism creates hate, suspicion, and distrust of the police. In Democrat-run cities where this toxic environment exists, effective police-community partnerships are almost impossible to build.
Fourth, prosecutors’ offices in most Democrat-run large cities and counties have been captured by adherents of Critical Race Theory who believe that our justice system is illegitimate. These radicals see their role not to punish criminals, but to dismantle the system from within. Many of their campaigns were bankrolled by Leftist billionaire George Soros.
Democrat DA’s prosecutions of gang members, gun and violent crimes have been dropped. Violent Antifa rioters have escaped prosecution. In New York City, criminal charges were dropped against 110 looters responsible for tens of millions of dollars in destruction, in line with BLM rhetoric which justifies looting as a slavery reparations.
Finally, there has been an almost total failure by police chiefs in these cities to stand up to Black Lives Matter/Antifa mobs. In Minneapolis, the chief surrendered a police precinct headquarters to the BLM/Antifa mob to be looted and burned and ordered his officers not to respond to citizen calls and engage looters because it was “too dangerous”; in Seattle, the chief abandoned another precinct building to the mob as an exercise in “trust and de-escalation”; in New York City, the commissioner disbanded the department’s Anti-Crime Unit, and shootings soared by 205%. Failed police leadership has enabled further crime and disorder. Kneeling before the mob has resulted in one thing: mob rule.
With the support of the community, prosecutors, and the courts, police can drive violence down. As a society, however, we rely on something much more important than the police to prevent crime. We expect every citizen to have internalized moral values which include the following: respect for the law, life, and others’ property; internal self-control that deters violent and criminal impulses; and a conscience to determine right from wrong.
It is primarily these internalized values, not the police, that prevent most people from committing crime and violence in the first place. These values are formed in young children where all learning begins: in the family. The main reason we need the police is to protect us from those few who have not internalized values of lawfulness and respect.
But the crisis in fatherhood has destroyed families and prevented these values from being transferred to children, resulting in the crime explosion. It is a national crisis, but the problem and its deadly results are overwhelmingly concentrated in the black communities of our major inner cities.
Former President Barack Obama pointed out the direct correlation between fatherlessness and crime, warning us that a child in a home without a father is “five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and twenty times more likely to end up in prison.” Obama stressed that the intact family — with a father — is the most important of “all the rocks upon which we build our lives.”
Obama hit the nail on the head. Black communities have the highest rate of children born to unmarried mothers — about 70 percent overall, and even higher in many inner-city neighborhoods. As a result, these communities also have the highest rates of violent crime, with young black men committing violent crime at a rate much higher than their proportion of the population. The black population of the United States is 13 percent, but black offenders committed 52 percent of all homicides between 1980 and 2008.
These numbers should not call us to mere condemnation, but to help a community in dire need.
The crisis of fatherless families, while most prominent in the black community, is not unique to it. The out-of-wedlock birth rate is 52 percent among Hispanic Americans and 28 percent for whites — both impending catastrophes. A new, comprehensive violent crime reduction and prevention strategy must include a rebirth of family values and responsible fatherhood.
We know what it takes to make our cities safe, but we will have to fight to make it happen. Citizens must demand that all anti-police laws and policies be reversed, our police are supported, police chiefs do their jobs, and intact families and fatherhood are supported in public policy. Public safety is an issue that unites us all regardless of race — every family has the right to live in peace and security. Americans must stand together to support policies that will make our communities safe for everyone.
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Maurice Richards is the former Chief of the Martinsburg Police Department in West Virginia. He served as Chief from 2015 to 2020 after a distinguished 24-year career in the Chicago Police Department. Richards holds a doctorate in Adult Education from Northern Illinois University. His writing has been featured in The Federalist, The Daily Caller, Human Events, and The Hill.