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By James Oliphant and Nathan Layne WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Last summer, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser played a high-profile role in the protests sweeping America over police killings of Black suspects. She renamed a street Black Lives Matter Plaza and joined thousands of demonstrators there, many shouting what had become the movement’s slogan: “Defund the police!”

Earlier this year, the mayor, a Democrat, proposed cutting the police budget and redirecting money to social services.

Now, however, Bowser and many other Democratic city leaders are scrambling to boost police budgets and hire more officers amid the deadliest crime wave in two decades. Local and national Democrats are distancing themselves from “defund” politics and policies, a reflection of how deeply unpopular the concept has become among most voters – and how effective a weapon it can be for Republican candidates.

The crime wave has laid bare tensions between progressive Democrats, who still aim to overhaul U.S. policing, and mainstream Democrats now pushing traditional enforcement to combat crime… Read More

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