Fact checking the fact checkers on defunding the police
Gov. Walz and legislative leaders spent the summer of 2020 debating a response to the May riots and their aftermath. The Democratic Party position was outlined in press conferences and bills sponsored by Rep. Carlos Mariani, the Chairman of the House Public Safety Committee.
Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Sen. Warren Limmer repeatedly told the public and the press the Senate would not support any proposals that defunded the police. When asked by reporters for specifics, they pointed to the DFL proposal to create a Community-Led Public Safety Coordinator. One of their duties would be to “promote and monitor alternatives to traditional policing models.”
Everyone at the Capitol knew what that meant in the summer of 2020. That was defunding the police. Walz supported the DFL legislative package and pushed for its passage. The Public Safety Coordinator was eventually dropped and a package of reforms was passed in July that included a ban on chokeholds, an end to warrior style police training and added counseling and support for police officers.
Sen. Scott Jensen voted in favor of the bill and Gov. Walz signed it into law.
The proposal to create a new office that “promotes and monitors alternatives to traditional policing models” was cited in a recent ad funded by the Republican Governor’s Association to back the claim that Walz supported defunding the police. It’s a solid claim.
But the “fact checkers” in Minnesota media apparently can’t read or can’t remember their own reporting on the special sessions of 2020. Both the StarTribune and FOX 9 produced fact checks yesterday on the topic. Most of the text in these “fact checks” dealt with Walz’s refusal to support the Minneapolis ballot initiative to defund the police, even though it wasn’t cited as the source for the claim in the ad. At the end of each piece, the media defended Walz by claiming the Democrat proposals in 2020 didn’t defund the police.
While Democrats pushed for use-of-force standards, an increase in oversight of police discipline and some community-based alternatives to traditional law enforcement, none of those measures supported taking funding from police.
Walz and Democratic lawmakers released a wide-ranging list of proposals, including changes to the arbitration process for disciplined officers and grants for community nonviolence groups. Cuts to police funding weren’t included in the list Walz endorsed.
Walz and the DFL supported a plan in 2020 to promote alternative models to traditional policing. Everyone knew that would mean taking resources away from cops on the streets and replacing them with social workers.
The ad is on point and the fact checkers are wrong.