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Though he’s often expressed left-leaning views, don’t count Morgan Freeman among the celebrities slamming the police. The Oscar-winning actor said in an interview with Black Enterprise magazine that he has no interest in joining the defund-the-police movement.
“I am not in the least bit for defunding the police,” Freeman told reporter Selena Hill in a video posted to Instagram. “Police work is, aside from all the negativity around it, it is very necessary for us to have them and most of them are guys that are doing their job. They’re going about their day-to-day jobs. There are some police that would never pull their guns except in range, that sort of thing.”
Freeman was expounding on the “defund the police” movement because his latest film, “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain,” centers on a real-life police shooting from 2011. Officers fatally shot Chamberlain, a 68-year-old black Marine veteran, inside his home after he accidentally triggered his medical alert necklace. Chamberlain, who had bipolar disorder, refused to open the door to the police when they arrived at his apartment. When officers broke down the door, he charged at them with a knife and was first tasered and then shot.
Actor Frankie Faison (“The Wire”), who stars as Chamberlain in the film, also participated in the interview and told Hill he agrees with Freeman that diverting money from police departments is not a good idea. “Well, I agree with Morgan,” Faison said. “I’m certainly not in favor of defunding the policemen.”
Freeman is in favor of police reform, however, and he’s put his money where his mouth is. In June, he joined with University of Mississippi criminal justice professor Linda Keena to found the Center for Evidence-Based Policing and Reform with $1 million in start-up funding.
Freeman said then, “It’s time we are equipping police officers with training and ensuring ‘law enforcement’ is not defined only as a gun and a stick. Policing should be about that phrase ‘To Serve’ found on most law enforcement vehicles.”
In a press release announcing the new program, University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce promised Keenan and Freeman’s organization will “not only develop realistic solutions but also offer training to police forces.” Boyce continued, “Our flagship university wants to strengthen the work of police forces in our state and beyond, particularly those in more rural communities that might not have as many resources as departments in large metropolitan areas.”
While Freeman has expressed pro-police sentiment, he seemed to tie up hopes for the reform center to gun control, saying, “I often talk to police officers when I see them out and ask how they would do their work if they didn’t have guns. Support of this center is about finding ways to help officers and arrive at solutions.”