Trump: ‘We won’t be dismantling our police’, 99 percent are ‘great people’
President Trump told law enforcement leaders at the White House in the wake of protests over the killing of George Floyd that he opposes a movement to abolish police and that he believes 99 percent of officers are “great people.”
“We won’t be defunding our police. We won’t be dismantling our police, and there’s not going to be any disbanding of our police. Our police have been letting us live in peace,” Trump told a roundtable of nationwide police leaders.
Many Democratic officials, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are endorsing an effort to redirect police funds, and a majority of the Minneapolis city council this weekend vowed to abolish their police department.
“I just see in some of the papers they want to end the police department — ‘end the police department’ in Minneapolis, end it. What does that mean, ‘end’ it?” Trump said.
“We want to make sure we don’t have any bad actors in there and sometimes you’ll see some horrible things, like we witnessed recently,” Trump said. “But 99, I say 99.9, but let’s go with 99 percent of them are great great people and they’ve done jobs that are record setting — record setting — so our crime statistics are at a level that they haven’t been at.”
Attendees of the roundtable included Steven Casstevens, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and Pat Yoes, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Trump said that “we’re going to work and we’re going to talk about ideas, how we can do it better, and how we can do it, if possible, in a much more gentle fashion. A thing like happened should never have happened.”
He added before reporters left the room: “We won’t be ending our police force in a city. I guess you might have some cities who want to try it, but that would be a very sad situation if they did because people aren’t going to be protected.”
White House officials at the table hailed Trump for signing the First Step Act criminal justice reform law in 2018, which shortened some prison sentences and reformed various jail practices.
“You have been a president of action,” said White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Ja’Ron Smith, a prominent African-American White House official, spoke about his own wariness at times around police, but said, “I think if we want real reform, like real reform that can change communities, it starts with law enforcement.”
“We can’t let some bad apples represent something that’s a core of any community. And so we look forward to continuing to partner with you all to find solutions,” Smith said.
Sheriff Tony Childress of Livingston County, Illinois, encouraged mandatory de-escalation training for officers and a prohibition on restraints to the neck.
“We look forward to working with you to getting legislation involved,” said Childress, who is black.
Attorney General Bill Barr said he believed police themselves largely would like new standards that clarify appropriate use of force.
“Law enforcement fully understands and has understood for some time the distrust that exists in African-American community toward the criminal justice system,” Barr said. “As I’ve been reflecting on this over the past few days and weeks, it struck me that for most of our history, in fact, maybe just up to 60 years ago, the law was explicitly discriminatory and did not provide equal protection.”
The White House meeting occurred after Democrats on Capitol Hill unveiled a large police reform package on Monday morning. The White House did not immediately respond to the bill, though Barr has opposed a specific proposal to roll back qualified immunity for officers accused of misconduct.
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