Gov. Greg Abbott calls on all Texas candidates to sign pledge against police budget cuts
The pledge is the governor’s latest political move in an election season consumed by debates on policing reforms and funding.
Governor Greg Abbott hosted a press conference this afternoon where he pledged to protect police funding.
In recent months, many protests against police brutality have shifted their focus to defunding police departments.
The governor’s “Back the Blue” pledge pushes back on that notion.
The governor is asking all of Texas' elected officials to sign the pledge as a promise that they won’t support any efforts to defund police departments.
Advocates for defunding say they believe empowering services like social work can be a more effective way to tamp down violence in cities rather than having law enforcement take on every emergency.
However, the governor thinks just the opposite would happen.
“That puts residents in danger and invites crime into communities and we cannot allow this to happen in Texas,” Abbott said.
Abbott did acknowledge that there are problems with law enforcement that need to be addressed.
However, he said the answer is better hiring and training practices.
We spoke to Midland and Odessa’s mayors and neither of them believe defunding is the answer.
“Right here in Midland Texas we struggle to even have the income available to fund the police force and officers that we need and the safety workers that we need,” Midland Mayor Patrick Payton said.
“All around the country you see leaders that are not supporting them,” Odessa Mayor David Turner said. “I’ve always told them I have your back. I will stand side by side with you. You know, they make mistakes just like all of us do but a lot of times they’re not publicized as much as the other mistakes we make.”
Abbott also announced another proposal at the conference.
He said cities that defund police departments will lose their annexing powers and previously annexed residents will be able to reverse the annex in a vote.
“Our law enforcement officers have our backs every single day,” Abbott said. “We need to show them that Texans and their elected leaders have their backs too.”
This conference comes just a few weeks after Austin’s city council voted to cut their police department’s $434 million budget by $150 million dollars.