When 'Defund the Police' Is Too Radical For Bernie Sanders

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Posted: Jun 10, 2020 8:30 AM
When 'Defund the Police' Is Too Radical For Bernie Sanders

Source: P Photo/Charles Krupa

To say the ‘Defund Police’ movement is radical is an understatement—especially when even a proud socialist isn’t on board with the idea.  

In an interview published in The New Yorker Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders pushed back on calls for a police-free America and instead said more training and higher pay for police officers should be part of reform efforts.

“Do I think we should not have police departments in America? No, I don’t. There’s no city in the world that does not have police departments,” he said. “What you need are—I didn’t call for more money for police departments. I called for police departments that have well-educated, well-trained, well-paid professionals. And, too often around this country right now, you have police officers who take the job at very low payment, don’t have much education, don’t have much training—and I want to change that.”

He did argue for transferring some of the duties that currently fall to law enforcement officers, such as addiction and mental illness, to mental-health professionals. Such ideas are gaining traction in places like Minneapolis, where some have proposed sending social workers to respond to certain calls.

“I think we want to redefine what police departments do, give them the support they need to make their jobs better defined,” Sanders continued. “So I do believe that we need well-trained, well-educated, and well-paid professionals in police departments. Anyone who thinks that we should abolish all police departments in America, I don’t agree.”

Some were skeptical whether Sanders truly disagreed with the movement or whether he publicly opposed it to help Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who said Monday he did not support defunding the police.