CBS's Byron Pitts Blames Iraq War for Rise in Violent Crime in the U.S.

In a Monday CBS Evening News story on how the FBI has reported that violent crime rose 2.3 percent in 2005, with a 9.2 percent hike in mid-sized cities -- a topic CBS hyped as "Eye on Crime: The Crisis" -- Byron Pitts attributed the increase in part to police officers deployed to Iraq as well as to the media's favorite culprit: a cut in federal spending. Pitts traveled to a mid-sized city, Minneapolis, where he found that “like so many cities its size, resources are strained. One burden, dollars diverted to Homeland Security. An added burden, the war in Iraq." A police officer lamented: "We have probably 30 to 40 officers that are serving in Iraq right now." But in a department of nearly 900 officers, that's only about four percent of the force. Pitts soon proposed another factor: "Since 2004, the Feds have cut funding for state and local police departments by nearly 50 percent. So with fewer police officers, more at-risk kids and more gangs go unwatched."

I'd bet the “cut” has been much less than 50 percent. And why should local policing be a federal responsibility?

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the relevant portion of the October 16 CBS Evening News story:
Byron Pitts: "....But like so many cities its size, resources are strained. One burden, dollars diverted to Homeland Security. An added burden, the war in Iraq."

Officer Rich Jackson, Minneapolis Police Department: "We have probably 30 to 40 officers that are serving in Iraq right now."

Pitts, riding in a car with Jackson: "Right now?"

Jackson: "Right now."

Pitts: "Have they been replaced with anybody?"

Jackson: "No."

Pitts: "Since 2004, the Feds have cut funding for state and local police departments by nearly 50 percent. So with fewer police officers, more at-risk kids and more gangs go unwatched...."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center