Many on the left — including most prominently Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — have recently taken to calling for police departments nationwide to be defunded or even abolished. But it looks like the White House isn’t on board with that idea.
Vice President Mike Pence told the Washington Examiner‘s Salena Zito on Friday that rather than take from police departments’ budgets, the Trump administration intends to find a way to increase funding for law enforcement in an effort to “enhance training and support enhanced standards on the use of force.”
“We’re not going to defund the police”
Speaking with Zito during a daylong trip to Western Pennsylvania to visit with leaders in the black and religious communities in the Pittsburgh area, and to take part in an event at a manufacturing facility that played a crucial role in the American response to the coronavirus pandemic, Pence explained that he’d been listening to concerns from both sides.
“We’re working with law enforcement and community leaders to find ways to improve public safety in this country, stronger standards for the use of force, de-escalation guidance, additional resources for training,” he told the columnist.
Pence went on: “We’re not going to defund the police — quite the contrary. We’re going to look for ways to fund law enforcement around the country in ways that can enhance training and support enhanced standards on the use of force.”
Vice President Pence acknowledged, however, that merely “making improvements in public safety will not be enough.” Rather, he says the Trump administration is looking at a wide variety of options to get at the roots of the problems.
“We have to do what President Trump has done from the very beginning, and that is work to bring jobs, opportunity, educational excellence, school choice, and improved health outcomes to our inner-city communities, especially our African American community,” Pence said, according to Zito.
He also said many of the problems the black community faces stem from having “lived for generations under failed liberal Democrat policies and leadership in our major cities. I mean, they’re Democrat policies that have resulted in poor economic opportunity, a lack of investment in jobs,” the VP added.
As for the horrible murder of 46-year-old George Floyd by Minneapolis cops that sparked the nationwide protests and riots and spurred the current national conversation, Pence said that incident was a “disgrace” and “national tragedy” that had “shocked the conscience of the nation.”
Still, Pence reportedly said, “the rioting and the looting and the violence against innocent civilians and law enforcement that took place afterwards was also totally unacceptable.”
“That’s why the president took the action to quell the violence in our nation’s capital and around the country to make room for peaceful protesters to give voice to their sentiment. I heard again today that it won’t be enough just to address public safety issues,” he added. “We’ve got to lean in to this effort.”
As Pence made clear, the Trump administration won’t be turning a blind eye to what many view as systemic problems. One can only hope Democrats will follow suit.