Bush introduces this bill during a massive crime spike throughout the United States.
The bill titled “The People’s Response Act” would create a federal agency under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), with the purpose of responding to emergencies from those with mental health. Instead of police officers responding to a scene that involves individuals using substances or suffers from mental health, first responders would be utilized.
“What this will do directly is save lives. What we will have done is change the culture, removing their crisis care from one that has to deal with law enforcement to one that actually works with the providers that would take care of them normally, people that understand what they’re facing.”
The bill also includes organizing and subsidizing studies, as well as sponsoring “non-carceral, health-centered investments in public safety.”
Bush has introduced this bill during a massive increase in crime throughout the United States. Data shows there were more than 20,000 murders in 2020, which is 4,000 more than the year prior and is the highest number since 1995.
According to a survey by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), there has been a 45% increase in officers retiring and almost a 20% increase in resignation in 2020-2021. With a decrease in officers, crime has soared, especially in major cities. Particularly in areas where there is a threat of or an actual decrease in police funding.
New York City reports show that there were 45,000 fewer arrests between June and December, while the homicide rate increased 58%. Chicago reported a 53% decrease in arrests made and a 65% increase in homicide. Louisville’s homicide rate skyrocketed to 87%, while arrests decreased 42%.
After the death of George Floyd in May of last year, rioting, looting, and calls to defund the police have caused police officers to retire, quit, or are unwilling to implement the laws for fear of retaliation.
The police shootings of Rayshard Brooks, Jacob Blake, and Ma’Khia Bryant still caused rioting and protesting despite Brooks shooting officers with a taser, Blake reaching into his car where there was a knife, and Bryant seconds away from stabbing another girl.
Officer Garrett Rolfe shot Rayshard Brooks last summer after Brooks drove through a Wendy’s drive-thru while under the influence of alcohol. After officers arrived and Brooks failed a sobriety test, he started resisting arrest. Brooks then assaulted one of the officers, stole a taser, and while running away turned around and pointed the taser at officers when Rolfe shot and killed him.
After Brooks’s death, rioting ensued along with protestors starting the Wendy’s on fire. Rolfe was facing 11 charges, one including felony murder. Devin Brosnan who was assaulted by Brooks faced four charges, one of them including aggravated assault.
Rolfe was later reinstated but is now on administrative leave and isn’t allowed to possess any firearms.
The shooting of Jacob Blake took place in Wisconsin last August, and also caused rioting and protesting throughout the country. Officers were called to the house by the mother of Blake’s children stating that he was attempting to steal her car.
When officers arrived, Blake resisted arrest, walked towards a car, and reached inside the driver’s side of the car despite orders from officers. Officers shot Blake seven times and found a knife laying on the floorboard of the car. He is paralyzed from the waist down and was recently denied claims of damages from being shot.
Another shooting that sparked protests was in Ohio after an officer shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant. In April of this year, officers responded to a scene where a woman had called 911 stating that someone was attempting to stab other people.
Body camera footage shows officers arriving at the scene where Bryant pushed a girl on the ground and then pinned another girl up against a car. Bryant was holding a knife and was shot by officers as she was swinging her arm back to stab the other girl. The officer fired four times and Bryant died from the injuries.
Before the body cam footage was released, news outlets had reported that Bryant dropped the knife before being shot.
The officer who shot Bryant Nicholas Reardon was placed on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.