Posted on May 18, 2021

Crime Jumps After Court-Ordered Policing Changes

Russell Contreras, Axios, May 14, 2021

Most police agencies in recent federally court-ordered reform agreements saw violent crime rates skyrocket immediately, according to an Axios examination of departments under consent decrees since 2012.

Why it matters: The increases in violent crime rates — in one case by 61% — suggest that there can be unintended consequences, at least in the short term, to the policing changes many Americans have demanded in the year since George Floyd’s death.


By the numbers: An Axios review of FBI and Justice Department data on all 12 agencies under consent decrees since 2012 found that seven of them experienced jumps in violent crime rates in two years compared to the two years before they entered into the consent decrees.

  • Seattle saw a 27% surge in its violent crime during that period following its consent decree in 2012.
  • Albuquerque, N.M., a city that saw violent protests in 2014 following the shooting of a white homeless man, later experienced a 36% increase in its violent crime rate. Before its consent decree, the city had seen a 30-year low in crime.
  • Los Angeles County, a region of 10 million people, saw a colossal rise of 61% in its violent crime rate following a consent decree with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department {snip}


The intrigue: Attorney General Merrick Garland announced last month that the Department of Justice would launch “pattern or practice” investigations into the Minneapolis and Louisville police departments, following the deaths last year of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

  • Depending on the findings, both cities could be forced into consent decrees to overall their departments.


Even some families of those killed by excessive police force cases say crime in Albuquerque is too high.

  • “But you can do both. You can fight crime and train officers better so they don’t abuse their power,” Stephen Torres, who lost his 27-year-old son, Christopher, in a police shooting, told Axios.