The top U.S. homeland security official said it’s “absurd” to defund police departments to address recent problems with racial injustice, arguing that such a move would deprive officers of necessary training and leadership.
In an interview on Fox News, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said cutting police budgets would harm the communities where they serve.
“It’s an absurd assertion and I don’t understand it,” Wolf said. “If you’re concerned about the racial injustice, if you’re concerned about needing to reform different police departments or law enforcement agencies, you want to make sure that you are giving them the right training.”
In the past two weeks, mass protests decrying the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other examples of racial injustice have rocked cities nationwide. Some protesters have called for cities and states to “defund the police.”
The rallying cry is ambiguous. Some protesters say some police funding should be redirected to social services in marginalized communities. Others want to disband local police forces altogether.
The effort has gained some momentum. Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city would look to cut $100 million to $150 million from its nearly $2 billion annual police budget to redirect to black communities.
Wolf on Sunday said that calls to defund police were a “political statement.” He said that slashing police budgets would harm law enforcement oversight and leadership.
“It does not protect communities at the end of the day,” Wolf said.