Trump Tried To Cut Police Funding

July 22, 2020

Editor, The News-Gazette:

Despite the efforts of some Republicans locally and nationally to portray themselves as the true friends of police and law enforcement, the reality – especially as reflected by Donald Trump – is quite different.

Trump and his supporters regularly rail against the slogan “Defund the Police” – something that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and other leading Democrats explicitly reject. But it is Trump who has actually tried to reduce funds for state and local law enforcement agencies.

As the Vox website reports: “In early February of this year, the Trump administration proposed a 58 percent cut in the federal government’s COPS Hiring Program, a federal program that supports police department staffing. That’s not a one-off; his administration’s budget proposals have routinely called for huge cuts to this program.” Congress has refused to go along.

Meanwhile the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis have created drastic revenue shortfalls for state and local governments, making it harder than ever to maintain (let alone expand) essential services such as law enforcement.

In May Democrats in Congress passed the HEROES Act, which would provide $900 billion in aid to state and local governments. The bill, which was stalled by Senate Republicans, would enable states and localities to fill their budget gaps and avoid funding cuts for policing and other vital activities.

Our congressman, Ben Cline, not only voted against the HEROES Act; he joined other congressional Republicans in writing to Trump pleading with him not to send any more money to their cash-strapped states and cities. (bit.ly/2Cxqhmv)

In his recent interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Trump tried to claim once again that Joe Biden wants to defund the police. He even said Biden had signed a document with Bernie Sanders to “abolish” the police, and promised to provide evidence. But as Wallace reported: “The White House has never sent us evidence the Bernie-Biden platform calls for defunding or abolishing police, because there is none. It calls for increased funding for police departments that meet certain standards. Biden has called for redirecting some police funding for related programs like mental health counseling.”

Finally, the administration’s three-and-a-half-year record of corruption and contempt for the law—as recently demonstrated by Trump’s commutation of the prison sentence of his friend Roger Stone, convicted of lying to protect Trump—makes a mockery of any claim to uphold “law and order.”

GENE ZITVER, chair, Lexington Democratic Committee MICHELLE WATKINS, chair, Rockbridge County Democratic Committee