HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF)- Joining phrases like “no justice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe”… a new phrase is being heard around the country at protests over the death of George Floyd.
Defund the police.
Following the death of George Floyd, defunding the police has become a rallying cry.
“Our budget is a reflection of our priorities. Do we prioritizen police over our children?” said protest organizer Marie Mott.
During a Chattanooga protest Saturday, Marie Mott said funding should increase a better standard of living for everyone.
“That will drop crime. That will improve people’s health. We want to invest in the people that live in this city.”
According to the democratic socialists of America, “defund the police” means less officers and more social services. More social workers, community assistance programs and possible abolition of the police.
“You don’t go to the scene of a man holding hostages and say hey I’m here to calm you down. Yes you use deescalation but that’s a training that police officers have” said Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond.
While some people believe funding for law enforcement should be slashed, others are against it. Hamilton County Commissioner Dr. Warren Mackey said salaries should increase for law enforcement to attract higher quality candidates.
“We want to protect the sheriff department” said Dr. Mackey. “These men and women are putting on uniforms. They are coming out to our communities. They’re protecting us.”
“Do we continuously invest in them and not invest in the people? We gotta invest in the people” said Mott.
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said the focus should be on building better relationships with law enforcement, “Rather than talk about defunding the police I’d rather talk about the community working with the police in order to better protect and serve.”
Defunding could also mean demilitarizing the police… which seems to be common ground for mayors to sheriffs and others.
In the unlikely event that Chattanooga defunded the city police department, that means Hamilton County deputies step in to fill the law enforcement role.