Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he would like to see a “transformation” — not the abolition — of police departments.
As Democrats push back on the call for police departments to be defunded, Sanders was asked if he supports the push to disband the departments.
“Do I think we should not have police departments in America? No, I don’t,” Sanders said in an interview with the New Yorker Magazine.
He continued, “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.”
Additionally, Sanders claimed that “you have police officers who take the job at very low payment, don’t have much education, don’t have much training.”
“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,” he added.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, lawmakers are calling for legislation to reform policing, and some Democrats have called for police departments to be defunded.
Politicians have argued that the “Defund The Police” movement stands for cutting funds to police departments to distribute funds to other programs. Others have called for police departments to be disbanded.
But Sanders clarified his position, “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,” he added.