Former New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday that America is suffering from a "crime virus" that will get worse as the summer continues.
"The crime virus is potentially going out of control," Bratton told MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle.
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"My expectation is that this summer is only beginning. The crime situation, particularly violent crime, is going to get worse, not only in those four cities but many other major American cities," he continued. "Why? Because so much of what we depended on to deal with the crime virus has been taken away."
Bratton said the rise in violent crime is the result of demoralized police forces that are losing resources amid the movement to "defund" cops, in addition to other misguided reform efforts. It is dangerous to reinvent law enforcement by abandoning what has worked, he argued.
"A lot of reforms are necessary, but we're in an etch-a-sketch moment," he said. "The last 30 years of crime reduction, things that worked, we're getting rid of them. And now we're going to try to reinvent many of the things we know already worked while we try to correct those we know that did not work."
American cities are seeing spikes in violent crime as calls to defund police departments have grown in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Milwaukee and Chicago are both on pace to experience their deadliest years in decades.
New York City saw five people shot in Brooklyn Monday night, including a one-year-old baby who was shot and killed in a stroller. The most recent NYPD crime statistics report showed a 130 percent increase in shooting incidents in the month of June 2020 compared with June 2019 and a 23 percent increase in murders over the first six months of 2020. Burglaries have also increased in the city.
Bratton served two separate terms as New York City's police commissioner and oversaw a significant drop in crime. He was also the chief of police for the Los Angeles and Boston Police departments.