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AG Derek Schmidt: Build trust between law enforcement and communities, do not ‘defund police’

Release Date: Jun 24, 2020

TOPEKA – (June 24, 2020) – Rather than answering calls to “defund the police,” federal lawmakers should support efforts that build trust between law enforcement and communities in order to make all Americans safer, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today told federal leaders.

Schmidt, along with 16 other state attorneys general, today sent a letter to President Donald Trump, U.S. Attorney General William Barr and bipartisan leadership of the U.S. House and Senate criticizing the “defund the police” movement and backing professionalism in law enforcement in order to make all Americans safer and restore trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“The American people are yearning for safety, stability, and security during these difficult times,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter. “Our nation is being torn between those who respect the rule of law and those who rationalize the lawless, tragic burning of our communities while rallying behind the ‘defund the police’ movement. We must defeat the notion that defunding the police will make America safer and focus on what we can do to rebuild trust between law enforcement and our communities…. Elected officials who say ‘defund’ doesn’t mean ‘defund’ choose to ignore the consequences of their statements and the public safety risk posed to their communities. To ‘defund the police’ would mean to turn our backs on victims of domestic violence, children being bought and sold for sex, or the elderly being physically and emotionally abused.”

Schmidt said he instead favors a more productive discussion focused on how to further strengthen law enforcement training and on reforms that reinforce the professionalism and integrity demanded of all law enforcement officers.

“Our goal should be to empower law enforcement to legally and ethically fulfill their duties, not restrict their ability to protect us all,” the attorneys general wrote. “We need to give law enforcement the tools and support they need to help people, not take them away. Ultimately, providing support for police and restoring trust between law enforcement and our communities will make all Americans safer.”

Schmidt this week also wrote a separate letter to U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran in support of the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act, the police reform package proposed by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., in the U.S. Senate. The legislation would incentivize local jurisdictions to increase training on de-escalation techniques and the duty to intervene, end the practice of using chokeholds, improve hiring practices to help police departments more closely reflect the diverse communities they serve, better preserve prior disciplinary records and increase the use of body cameras to enhance transparency and accountability.

A copy of the letter sent by the attorneys general is available at https://bit.ly/37YqnyU. A copy of Schmidt’s letter to Sens. Roberts and Moran is available at https://bit.ly/3ez01G8

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