EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – It’s being called an epidemic, the spike in violent crimes that’s happening across the nation, including in New Mexico and Texas. This as assaults against law enforcement professionals are also on the rise . Experts say that it’s only going to get worse, if we don’t step in and address the issues.

Rev. Markel Hutchins, Founder of Movement Forward points to a police pullback as one of the factors in a rise in violent crimes,

“One of the unfortunate and perhaps unintended consequences of all of the protests and demonstrations and really the outcry around social justice in the aftermath of law enforcement tragedies like George Floyd… there is now this rift between law enforcement and communities that has translated in an increase in violent crimes across the country.”

Rev. Hutchins told KTSM 9 News Anchor Christina Aguayo that the nation is seeing an ‘alarming’ and record number of increases in homicides and burglaries in major cities and small communities across the country. He says that there is a direct correlation between increases in crime and tensions between communities and law enforcement which is why, he said, more resources need to be invested in law enforcement.

“When there is more trust, when there is more understanding, when there is more of  a sense of humanity between law enforcement professionals and the people that they protect and serve – study after study over the last three decades show -that crime decreases. But when the tensions exist between the communities and law enforcement there is an inevitable increase in violent crime and that is what we are seeing across this country”

Rev. Markel Hutchins, Founder of Movement Forward

According to FBI data there were more than 21,000 homicides last year, a number not seen since the 90’s. Philadelphia had a year of record homicides in 2021 but absolutely no increase in policing. This is in sync with the nation experiencing 710 more homicides and 2,800 more shootings due to police pullback after Floyd protests. 

“There is a direct correlation in decrease in officer an public safety presence in local communities and increase in crime. When police are fully staffed and fully equipped in terms of having enough officers to put on the street there’s more visibility naturally in communities. And when there is an increase in visibility, there is always a decrease in crime. That is why it is incumbent upon all of us, despite our political differences or even our ideological differences – you cannot defund police and have safe communities at the same time. I have spent the last three decades at the forefront of human and civil rights advocacy and I adamantly oppose the notion of defunding the police.”

The capital of Texas and one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation had its deadliest year on record in 2021 with 89 homicides. According to Police Chief Joseph Chacon, the city does not have enough police officers.

Albuquerque shattered its annual homicide record, with 117 killings in 2021. Which is more than half of all homicides committed in the entire state. Police Chief Harold Medina is calling for changes in the judicial system with city officials pointing to a a lack of consequences for repeat offenders.

As at least 12 major U.S. cities shattered there homicide records in 2021, as assaults against law enforcement officers are also on the rise. According to FBI data, more than 150 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2021, including 15 in Texas. The National Fraternal order of police saying 346 officers were shot in 2021, 63 were killed by gunfire and ambush attacks on officers have spiked by more than 100%.

In El Paso, Texas, there were nearly 500 incidents of resisting arrest, or assaults on an officer during an arrest. Sergeant Enrique Carrillo, Public Affairs- Media Relations provided a statement on what may be a contributing factor to the increased violence against law enforcement officers,

“Very often in response to calls for service police officers are dealing with people at their worst.  Responding to calls on persons who have used violence or threatening to use violence against others, consequently officers are going into potentially dangerous situations.  At least dangerous enough that the person (s) who called believed the situation was well beyond their control or posed such a danger that the recourse was to call police to handle and resolve that situation.  Handling and resolving that situation may require an arrest and in attempt to avoid that, offenders resort to violence against officers. Every officer knows Officers getting, injured, ill or killed is the inherent reality of police work but certainly not as some would say “what they signed up for” no one signs up for that.

If you ask to what the rise in violence can be attributed, and there are several factors, one that can’t be discounted is the fact that media across the country in all platforms to some extent has contributed to sowing contempt towards police resulting in the rising violence against officers.  While violence against police officers has existed since the inception of modern policing, the continuous popular negative light cast on police by the media and many highly placed individuals has given rise to the increase over the last two years. 

Violence in police work begins with the offender committing a crime. When police respond to a crime and encounter the offender,  the consequence of that crime and duty of the officer is an arrest.  Knowing that, there are those persons who would use any level of violence against police officers to avoid arrest.” 

Sergeant Enrique Carrillo, Public Affairs- Media Relations

In Texas, 5,359 law enforcement officers were assaulted in 2020, according to the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report issued on October 18, 2021. In 2019, 3,585 law enforcement officers were assaulted in Texas. According to statistics reported to the FBI, 60,105 law enforcement officers were assaulted nationwide while performing their duties in 2020.

Rev. Markel said there is a false narrative in society about officers of the law that has been put forth by the media, saying the ‘vast and overwhelming majority of law enforcement go to work and do a good job every day.’ And that the deaths of [people like] George Floyd and Breanna Taylor are actually anomalies,

Rev. Hutchins said that those officers involved need to be accountable, but demonizing all law enforcement – as we see in traditional and social media -is not the right way, and according to Rev. Hutchins, not the representative thought of the majority of Americans.

“The vast and overwhelming majority of the American people including African Americans and Hispanics want more, or the same level of law enforcement. Most Americans defend law enforcement and don’t want to defund them. We can lift and amplify  the voices of the majority of American people who understand that change is necessary, but we have to do so by collaborating between community and police because they can’t do that by themselves.”

Rev. Markel Hutchins, Founder of Movement Forward

Rev. Hutchins goes on to say that we cannot have people in elected office that are demonizing law enforcement unfairly or defending law enforcement unfairly. There is more that unites us then divides us he said,

“The solution is to turn to each other and not on each other. One of the things that I have said is that our pathway forward is not marching on each other anymore, it is marching to each other”

For local and breaking news, sports, weather alerts, video and more, download the FREE KTSM 9 News App from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.