President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr on Monday spoke out against the “defund the police” movement, a multi-hued effort that in its extreme application proposes disbanding police departments entirely in favor of ill-defined alternatives.
Speaking at a meeting with law enforcement officials and officers at the White House, Trump praised police for the nations low crime numbers and acknowledged their service.
“Theres a reason for less crime. Its because we have great law enforcement. Im very proud of that,” Trump said, adding, “They protect people, risk their own lives for people theyve never seen before—people, in many cases, they dont know.”
Trump said pointedly he opposed efforts to cut funding to police departments.
“There wont be defunding. There wont be dismantling of our police, and theres not going to be any disbanding of our police,” he said.
The president sought to set the record straight on cases of misconduct by police, saying that the actions of several “bad actors” were limited in scope and should not taint the accomplishments of broader law enforcement structures.
“Our police have been letting us live in peace, and we want to make sure we dont have any bad actors in there,” Trump said, adding that he believes “99 percent” of officers are “great people.
The presidents remarks about miscreants on the force come after weeks of protests, some of which have resulted in violent riots, following the police-custody death of George Floyd. All officers involved in Floyds death have been arrested and charged with crimes.
The incident has sparked outrage, which has fueled the movement to overhaul police procedures, including limiting legal protections for police, creating a national database of excessive-force encounters, and banning the use of chokeholds.
A rallying cry of some protesters and proponents of police reform is to “defund the police,” a multi-layered movement that ranges from calls to adjust police budgets to fund the establishment of complementary community-based solutions, to extreme proposals to disband police departments entirely.
Activist group MPD150 says on its website that it is gradually “working towards a police-free Minneapolis”, describing the concept as being about “strategically reallocating resources, funding, and responsibility away from police and toward community-based models of safety, support, and prevention.”
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said part of the movement is really about how money is spent.
“Now, I dont believe that you should disband police departments,” she said in an interview with CNN. “But I do think that, in cities, in states, we need to look at how we are spending the resources and invest more in our communities.”
“Maybe this is an opportunity to re-envision public safety,” she added.