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Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) said on Sunday that it was “ludicrous” for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to suggest police departments could be reformed through increased funding.
“It sounds ludicrous to me to have, you know, people pour out into the streets asking for the system to be transformed and for us to say, ‘In order for that transformation to happen, we’re just going to give more money to the system without really doing any kind of systematic change,'” Omar said on CNN’s State of the Union.
Protests sweeping the United States following the death of George Floyd have pushed Republican and Democratic lawmakers in recent weeks to draft landmark law enforcement reform bills. But while Republicans have unified behind Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.), whose police reform legislation will likely be introduced next week, Democrats have been divided between calls to defund and reform police departments.
Omar, along with members of her party’s progressive wing, has been adamant in her calls to defund the police, saying that her home city of Minneapolis should “completely dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department.”
Biden, on the other hand, has said police should not be defunded, proposing $300 million in increased funding for police departments to reform police training and tactics.
“I don’t think police should be defunded, but I believe the conditions should be placed upon them where departments are having to take significant reforms,” he said.
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.) has also denounced calls to defund the police, choosing to focus on police reform and increased funding as well. On Sunday, he said politicians should “restructure” rather than “defund” the police, a statement which Omar also called “ludicrous.”
The Minneapolis city council unanimously voted last week to disband the city’s police department. Omar praised the decision Sunday, saying the city council was “committing to the dismantlement of a department that is beyond repair.”
The congresswoman also praised Camden, N.J., on Sunday for dismantling its police department.
“In Camden, they realized that there was just a department that was beyond reform, as it was. They dismantled it, and they figured out a different way to move forward as a community in regards to providing public safety for one another,” Omar said.
While the Camden Police Department disbanded in 2013 amid corruption and fiscal issues, the city replaced the department with the Camden County Police Department, which eliminated old union contracts. The new department selectively hired officers, implemented new training, and increased the number of officers on patrol. Since 2014, crime has plummeted and excessive force complaints have dropped 95 percent in the city.
Omar is also one of a handful of members of Congress looking to end qualified immunity for police officers, which would allow officers to be sued for actions they take on behalf of the government.