Defund the police ‘isn’t dead,’ it’s just taken new form with massive implications: retired police chief

Defund the police ‘isn’t dead,’ it’s just taken new form with massive implications: retired police chief

Join Fox News for access to this content

Plus special access to select articles and other premium content with your account – free of charge.

Please enter a valid email address.

The defund the police movement is not dead. It has just taken a new form that strips departments of proactive policing policies that leaves officers and law-abiding citizens at risk, a retired police chief argued.  

“Defund the police isn’t dead. There’s police executives around the United States that will tell you that defund the police is over. It’s not,” retired Riverside, Illinois, Police Chief Tom Weitzel told Fox News Digital in a Zoom interview. “It depends on the geographical area that you’re in. But it’s gaining speed again, and it’s gaining speed in this format.” 

Weitzel is referring to a new push in jurisdictions across the nation that are stripping police departments of their authority and policies to proactively protect the community. Late last month, Pittsburgh officials, for example, announced the police department would no longer respond to lower-priority calls that the bureau says do not require an in-person response. 

“It’s not the marches and the protests and the rioting. It is the taking away of your authority, that taking away of the job function. Certain politicians that have gotten in office and now have the power to limit police ability to patrol and investigate,” Weitzel said.


Tom Weitzel when he was police chief of Riverside, Ill.  (Tom Weitzel )

Defund the police rhetoric in 2020 in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis ushered in protests and riots on city streets across the nation, where protesters demanded police departments lose their funding and be replaced with non-police community safety plans. A handful of cities complied with the calls, such as New York and Portland, and stripped their departments of some funding.

Crime began spiraling in 2020, when the national murder rate rose by nearly 30%, and was soon followed by smash-and-grab crime trends on the West Coast, rampant car theft and carjackings in cities like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and record-high homicides in cities like Milwaukee and New Orleans by 2022.

Simultaneously, police departments nationwide experienced severe staffing crises as officers filed for early retirement or quit amid calls to defund in 2020 and as officers worked overtime as crime rates spiked. 


seattle defund

People carry signs during a defund the police march from King County Youth Jail to City Hall in Seattle Aug. 5, 2020.  (Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

Cities that defunded soon backed away from the movement, restoring police funds and calling for law and order on the streets. 

Now, the U.S. is still seeing efforts to defund, though not in a blatant manner as seen in 2020, Weitzel argued.


“They don’t want us to do our job anymore. And these are certainly politicians that are in power, and they have the power to pass legislation to enforce that,” Weitzel said. 

“And in Pittsburgh they’ll probably be having no desk officers between 3 and 7 a.m. They’re going to reduce the staffing. They’re going to reduce patrol. There was a statement made in Pittsburgh that they want to reduce … 200,000 calls for police service to around [50,000].” 

police car set on fire during george floyd riot

Smoke rises from a police cruiser fire May 30, 2020, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)

Pittsburgh rolled out a handful of new policies at the end of February, including a new emergency call system that aims to cut down the average of 200,000 annual calls to about 50,000, WPXI reported. Police will respond to active emergencies, but incidents such as theft, harassment and burglary alarms will be handled by the new telephone reporting unit or online forms, local media reported. 

Between the hours of 3 a.m. and 7 a.m., a desk officer will no longer be stationed in the city’s police precincts. Those who visit the stations between those hours can use a phone outside to call 911. Officers will also now work four 10-hour shifts a week, instead of five 8-hour shifts. 

“We are certain we have the personnel to keep the city safe,” Pittsburgh Chief Larry Scirotto said last month to local media. “It’s not an abdication of services.” The chief added that the changes would help officer health and pointed to data showing the changes to shifts corresponds with when officers are most needed by the public. 

Officer returns to work after shooting

Tom Weitzel returning to work at the Riverside Police Department in 1987 after he was shot in the line of duty.  (Tom Weitzel )

Weitzel said police stations should always be open and a safe haven for those who need help and are in dangerous situations. 

“For years in law enforcement, we’ve been telling residents, ‘Our lobbies are open 24/7. They have secured doors, they’re well lit. There’s somebody sitting in there.’ Because I can tell you, even in a small town, when I was police chief in Riverside, we would have, especially female victims, come into the lobby if they felt they were being followed, that were involved in domestic disputes. And knew where the police station was.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time that alleviated the problem. That’s not going to be the case if you stop having desk officers certain times.” 

Weitzel said that when he first joined the force in the 1980s, officers were trained to hit the streets, interact with the community and be on the lookout for suspicious activity. 

“When I first started, we had our basic training, and we were told to get out there and do our job. And, literally, we had a training officer for maybe a month, maybe two months, and they showed you … how to make traffic stops. They told you how to do investigative stops,” he said. “You were highly encouraged, if something at three o’clock in the morning looked out of place, that your job, your function, was to investigate that.

“That is not happening. In fact, it’s being discouraged.”


The retired Illinois chief said 2020 also marked a turning point for the kinds of recruits applying to become officers. Weitzel, similar to other officers pre-2020, had long dreamed of becoming an officer as a young boy, even ruffling the feathers of the nuns at his Catholic grade school by running to the windows when he heard sirens passing. 

He said many recruits now don’t have a lifelong desire to be an officer and instead treat the position like a typical office job. 

Illinois police chief at desk

Tom Weitzel when he served as police chief in Riverside, Ill. (Tom Weitzel )

“Are we seeing individuals coming into the profession who’ve always wanted to get into law enforcement? No, we’re not anymore. In fact, we used to see a lot of military veterans that would come into the profession, and even that has dropped,” he said. 

Recruits now focus on income, days off and if the department has a union contract. Lowering recruiting standards, including physical fitness, to bolster forces’ dwindling staff numbers has also compounded the issue, Weitzel added. 

The retired chief pointed to California, Washington, D.C., and Illinois’ Cook County as areas where local policing policies have been gutted and crime subsequently increased. He cited policy changes such as Illinois’ SAFE-T Act, which ended cash bail in the state among other changes, and San Francisco recently limiting who is pulled over for traffic infractions. 

NYPD class in Brooklyn

New York City Police Academy cadets attend their graduation ceremony at the Barclays Center July 2, 2013, in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

“Those decisions are actually costing police officers lives,” Weitzel said. “I truly believe that the more and more you take away police authority and respect and our ability to do the job, the more and more police officers are being assaulted. 

“The more physical assaults are happening. The officers being shot in the line of duty is skyrocketing, not necessarily being killed in the line of duty but police officers actually being shot.” 


The number of officers killed in the line of duty last year dropped, but 2023 set a record for the most police officers shot in a year at 378, according to Fraternal Order of Police data previously reported by Fox News Digital. 

“I believe that’s all part of this rhetoric that’s being put out there by … certain politicians that they’re gutting our profession and they’re gutting what police can do. And, believe me, the criminals know this. … Mix that into what’s going on in our country right now, which is this great influx of migrants, right? You take that, you put that in, and it’s going to be an explosion,” Weitzel said. 


The retired police chief said Americans who care about law and order and public safety should be concerned about the shift away from proactive policing. 


“If you’re concerned about law and order, public safety, you support the police in the job they do. You should be talking to your city council. You should be going in front of your city council and talking to them about not gutting the police, giving the police their tools, not passing ridiculous legislation. And, you know, there has to be some advocacy at that level, because politicians listen to the citizens, I believe, and the residents they serve,” he said. 

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »
Scroll to Top
Donald Trump Could Be Bitcoin’s Biggest Price Booster: Experts USWNT’s Olympic Final Standard Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting Highlights What to see in New York City galleries in May Delhi • Bomb threat • National Capital Region • School