The Long Island, N.Y., official made the comment responding to the growing push across the country to defund police departments following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, which sparked protests and some violent demonstrations in many cities.
“We’ve had over 100 protests here in Suffolk County,” Bellone noted. “We certainly understand the pain and the anger and frustration people are expressing and the work that needs to be done, but this notion of defunding the police and what it implies, that somehow we don't need the police, doesn't make sense.”
“It may make for a catchy slogan at a protest, but as a matter of public policy, it just doesn't work,” he continued.
“The fact of the matter is, crime has not gone away. Every day there are bad people out there trying to do bad things and it could be property crimes, violent crimes, [and] domestic violence incidents.”
He pointed out that Suffolk County police officers break up sex trafficking rings and battle “brutal criminal organizations like MS-13 to get them off our streets.”
MS-13, a violent street gang, was started by Central American immigrants in the 1980s, and has since spread across major metropolitan areas including Los Angeles, the Washington suburbs and Long Island, which has recently been considered a hotbed for the gang known for its gruesome crimes.
President Trump visited Long Island in 2018 and held an immigration roundtable to decry the "bloodstained killing fields" overrun by illegal immigrants and promised to "dismantle" and "eradicate" gangs.
Bellone also brought up a recent example of police preventing “a tragedy from happening.”
“Just this past week we had somebody walk into one of our local hospitals with a backpack that had explosives and a hatchet concealed and it was an off-duty police officer that saw something suspicious that ultimately allowed our detectives to apprehend this individual and prevent a tragedy from happening,” Bellone said.
“That's what police do every single day and when we call 911, we have a right to expect, the people expect, that the police will be there to respond.”
A Republican group is releasing an ad attacking Democrats over recent calls to defund and abolish police departments, playing up the uncertainty about who would respond to emergency calls if police departments are abolished entirely.
Not all Democrats have endorsed calls to abolish or even defund police departments. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., are two of the most notable national Democrats to resist the movement. And House Democratic leadership warned its members last week to avoid taking a hard stance on the issue.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.