Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stated that she supports the “idea” of the “defund the police” movement before dismissing any potential push to cut funding to Michigan law enforcement.
Whitmer, a Democrat, voiced support for “defund the police” on Tuesday in an interview with The Root. In general, “defund the police,” means cutting or abolishing police departments and spending those resources in areas such as education or social programs.
“It’s really about reprioritizing and rebuilding communities, not just policing,” Gov. Whitmer said, according to WDIV. “You look at budgets and they’re focused on policing — they should be focused on education, transportation, access to health care, access to skills and leveling the playing field.”
“I think you do all those other things, you don’t need all the money that’s going to the police departments. So, yeah, I mean, the spirit of it, I do support that spirit of it,” Whitmer said.
She later backtracked on her comments in an interview with the Detroit Free Press, saying that she does not support cutting funding to law enforcement. She also suggested that Michigan police should get more money, not less.
“Perhaps the words that I used on ‘The Root’ were maybe a little confusing, but they have never been other than I support rebuilding communities and rebuilding them in a way that creates real opportunity in an equitable and just manner,” Whitmer said.
“I don’t believe police should be defunded,” she added. “What I hear from all of my friends who are part of this moment and who are leading on the front lines is we have a real need for greater investment in communities” and “we need to rebuild and level the playing field through better schools and better transportation and access to health care and those are all the critical investments that I absolutely support.”
Asked if she believed funding to police should be decreased, Whitmer said, “we are underinvested in almost every realm in the state government.” When pressed again, she stated that police budgets should not be cut in order to fund social programs elsewhere.
Whitmer has been rumored to be in contention for the vice president spot on the campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Whitmer has never explicitly denied the reports or said that should not serve if asked.
Former Vice President Biden wrote an op-ed published on Wednesday reiterating his stance against defunding police departments. The Democratic candidate also went a step farther pushing for more funding for law enforcement to build up “community policing” initiatives that allow police officers to become more familiar with the neighborhoods and residents they cover.
“I do not support defunding police,” Biden wrote. “The better answer is to give police departments the resources they need to implement meaningful reforms, and to condition other federal dollars on completing those reforms.”
“I’ve long been a firm believer in the power of community policing — getting cops out of their cruisers and building relationships with the people and the communities they are there to serve and protect. That’s why I’m proposing an additional $300 million to reinvigorate community policing in our country,” he said.
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