Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) faced questions about growing calls to slash funding for police departments in response to widespread protests against racial injustice and police brutality.
In an appearance on ABC’s The View on Monday, she addressed a question about whether she supports such proposals — but her answer seemed to only create more uncertainty about her position.
“Do you support defunding and removing police from American communities, and if not, why do you think there is such a hard time being differentiated right now between defunding and reforming police departments?” asked co-host Meghan McCain.
“Bringing in a whole new way of governing”
Harris, who is considered to be among the likeliest choices to run as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, offered an answer with plenty of words but few specifics.
“When I talk to law enforcement, they know that they don’t want to be nor or are they skilled to be the ones who are responding to someone with mental illness or substance abuse or the homeless population, but in many cities, that’s what’s happening because we are not directing those resources, those public resources, to where they need to go which is addressing mental health, homelessness, substance abuse, so that we don’t have to have a police response because we are smarter,” Harris said.
Not satisfied with the answer, McCain repeated the question, which prompted Harris to press her on a definition of the increasingly popular “defund the police” slogan.
McCain referred to a statement from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who stresses the need for “bringing in a whole new way of governing and law and order into a community.”
The senator agreed that “we need to reimagine how we are achieving public safety in America,” but called for reallocating police funds instead of a full abolition of agencies.
“A dire need for mental health resources”
“And to have cities where one-third of their entire budget is going to policing and yet there is a dire need for mental health resources, for resources going into public schools, resources going into job training and job creation?” she continued. “Come on.”
Through a campaign spokesperson, Biden also distanced himself from the far-left proposals.
“As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded,” said Andrew Bates.
Democrats are divided over the extent to which law enforcement should be reformed in the United States. By contrast, the president has remained focused on a “law and order” approach his campaign hopes will resonate with a wide swath of voters.