Bernie Sanders Comes Out Against Abolishing Police

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders (Joe Raedle / Getty)
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Twice-failed presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has come out against abolishing police departments nationwide as Black Lives Matter and fellow far-left Democrats call for the defunding of police in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Sanders said in a New Yorker interview published Tuesday:

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. 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. I also called for the transformation of police departments into—understanding that many police departments and cops deal every day with issues of mental illness, deal with issues of addiction, and all kinds of issues which should be dealt with by mental-health professionals or others, and not just by police officers.

I think we want to redefine what police departments do, give them the support they need to make their jobs better defined. 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.

Sanders’ remarks come one day after Joe Biden’s presidential campaign announced that the presumptive Democrat nominee does not support defunding police.

“Biden does not believe that police should be defunded. He hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain,” the Biden campaign said in a statement.

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign accused Biden of failing to reject the “defund the police” movement.

“Defunding the police is exactly what this movement means,” campaign communication director Tim Murtaugh told reporters in a conference call. “Joe Biden is complicit in this and he does not have the strength to stand up to the extremists that are now calling the shots in the party, and he would contribute to the chaos.”

“He has surrendered any common sense that he has to the radical left of his party,” Murtaugh added.

On Sunday, a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council announced that it would commit to a “police-free future.”

“We recognize that we don’t have all the answers about what a police-free future looks like, but our community does,” the city council said in a statement. “We’re committed to engaging with every willing community member in the City of Minneapolis over the next year to identify what safety looks like for you.”

Minneapolis protesters booed away Mayor Jacob Frey (D) from a Black Lives Matter demonstration on Saturday when he refused to express support for defunding the city’s police department.

The position of Biden, Sanders, and Frey also places them at odds with “Squad” members Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who joined calls to defund the police last week.

During a congressional primary debate, Ocasio-Cortez stated that she is “actively engaged in advocacy” for a “reduction of our NYPD budget and defunding a $6 billion NYPD budget that costs us books in the hands of our children and costs us very badly needed investment in NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] and public housing.”

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