President Bush is setting the wrong priorities by cutting aid to local law enforcement agencies while boosting military spending, editorializes the Detroit Free Press. The war on terror costs $11 billion a month in Iraq alone. U.S. cities struggling to keep their streets safe need a surge of assistance, too. More than 17,000 people were murdered in 2006 — nearly 80 percent of them in cities. The number of people killed in Detroit in 2007 — about 400 — is about half the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq last year.
The Free Press admits that blaming the federal government for any city’s murder rate would be foolish and irresponsible. Still, Bush’s 2009 budget proposal “showed an almost shocking disregard for the safety of the nation’s cities, even as violent crime is again on the rise.” The Bush plan would cut aid to state and local law enforcement to roughly $1 billion for the year — an amount the United States spends in three days in Iraq. The newspaper says the next president should increase support for local law enforcement programs that work, strengthen the federal commitment to prisoner re-entry programs, make gun control a priority, should encourage local rules that require police officers to live in the cities they serve, and generally do more to prevent crime. Detroit’s Operation TIDE, part of the federal Project Safe Neighborhoods, cut murders 43 percent and nonfatal shootings by 26 percent in one police district.