Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is asking all candidates running for office in his state this November to sign a pledge against cutting funding to police departments.
The call by Abbott, a Republican, comes amid widespread protests and unrest across the country over racial injustice and police brutality.
“Some cities in Texas want to defund and dismantle police departments in our state,” the Republican governor said in a YouTube video promoting his pledge. “This reckless action invites crime into our communities and threatens the safety of all Texans including our law enforcement officers and their families.”
One of the loudest calls from protestors this summer has been to slash funding to police departments and reallocate the money to social services and community projects. Demonstrators also want reformed policing practices and more accountability for officers who use violent force in the line of duty.
While the calls for reallocating funding from police departments have been taken seriously by a number of Democratic in cities across the nation – including in the Texas state capital of Austin, where the city council agreed to slash about $20 million from the police department in the 2021 budget and move the funds to things like housing and emergency response – Republicans have adamantly opposed such moves.
Law and order – and increasing funding to police departments – was a major theme of last month’s Republican National Convention and President Trump has made it a major talking point as he fights to win a second term in the White House.
Pointing to spikes in violent crime in Democratic-run cities like New York and Chicago and the chaotic unrest in places like Portland, Ore., Republicans have blamed Democrats for the violence in many cities and argue that such lawlessness will spread beyond city borders if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is elected in November.
Democrats, however, have pushed back by noting that the spikes in violence and the unrest have both occurred during Trump’s time in the White House.