Michigan's Whitmer says she supports 'spirit' of 'defund the police' calls

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said on Wednesday that she supports the “spirit” of the “Defund The Police” movement, but not the actual idea eliminating funding to law enforcement agencies.

Speaking during an interview with The Root on Instagram, Whitmer said that to her, the movement – which has taken on more resonance since the protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor – is about reallocating resources and money from law enforcement in social services.

“The spirit as you just articulated is really just about reprioritizing and rebuilding communities, not just policing,” Whitmer said.

The Michigan governor added that state budgets too often focus on giving money to law enforcement and criminal courts and instead should redirect some of that money toward education, health care, skills training, public transit and “leveling the playing field,” she said.

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“If you do all those other things, you don’t need all the money going to the police departments,” Whitmer said. “So yeah, the spirit of it, I do support that spirit.”

She added: “We’re not going to defund all the police but we’re going to make the investments in people. And that’s what this is all about.”

State and local governments spent $115 billion on policing in 2017, according to data compiled by the Urban Institute.

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Whitmer’s view sits in line with many Democratic lawmakers in Washington. While many have expressed sympathy with the cause, have also come out against removing funding to embattled police departments.

Democrats in Congress proposed on Monday a far-reaching overhaul of police procedures and accountability, saying their proposal would not eliminate police departments — a decision for cities and states — but establish new standards and oversight.

Joe Biden, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, “does not believe that police should be defunded,” said spokesman Andrew Bates.