NC bill would punish local governments if they cut budget to law enforcement agencies

NC bill would punish local governments if they cut budget to law enforcement agencies
New bill would punish local governments for defunding the police, if passed (Source: WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Republican lawmakers want to discourage local governments from cutting funding for law enforcement.

A new bill was introduced this week by Senator Chuck Edwards.

If passed, it would punish local governments by taking away state funding if they reduce the law enforcement budget by 1 percent of the government’s overall budget that year.

Its goal is to make it more difficult for local officials to “defund the police” and shift money to social services and other programs.

“If you want to use the word, reduce, reallocate. Let’s be honest, it is defunding the police. And my message to those groups is: Not in North Carolina,” said Senator Chuck Edwards.

Edwards said support for law enforcement is decreasing and crime rates are increasing. To him, that’s a scary trend that needs state intervention.

“Unfortunately, what is changing is the support in some communities to the fine men and women who risk their lives to prevent anarchy,” Edwards said at Monday press conference.

But Charlotte activists working to reimagine how police work in Charlotte say this bill won’t affect this mission.

“Our effort isn’t to replace or defund the police budget. We want to make it more effective from the community perspective and keep the budget from raising,” said Robert Dawkins who works with Safe Coalition NC.

Dawkins’ goal is to shift to other alternatives for policing that involve the community and other partners outside of law enforcement.

“We come up with alternatives where the community is doing their own restorative justice so we are reducing the way of policing and interacting with people so the budget itself will not grow,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins says it’s about proving that police roles need to change when the community’s needs change.

“It’s always about a dollar, so if they say Charlotte reduces their calls to services, Charlotte reduced their crime rate, we can’t complain about the budget being cut,” Dawkins said.

Some of those community efforts are things like Cure Violence, which is a community crime reduction program the city has worked on for several months. He says that should be launching this spring.

NC Senator Todd Johnson, from Union County, and Senator Carl Ford who represent Rowan and Stanly counties are both sponsoring this bill.

They did not respond to our request for an interview.

WBTV News also reached out to the Charlotte chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, who did not respond to our request for comment.

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