Home>Governor>Murphy appears to side with Oliver against defunding police

Gov. Phil Murphy at his April 26, 2020 press briefing in Trenton. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.

Murphy appears to side with Oliver against defunding police

Governor again pushes investments in community services, but not at the cost of law enforcement

By Nikita Biryukov, September 11 2020 4:06 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy appeared to agree with Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver’s promise not to redirect funds going to police departments to other community services Friday.

“The way I’ve thought about it in the past is not just in isolation because nothing is in isolation. It’s less about what you’re doing with law enforcement than what are you doing with the surrounding community investments,” Murphy said during the day’s virus briefing.

During a 9/11 commemoration ceremony earlier Friday, Oliver promised law enforcement officials the state “will never defund you.”

Murphy’s most recent comments don’t represent a policy shift on defunding the police. Comments Murphy made in June, when protests over the police killing of George Floyd were still at their fiercest, largely mirror those he made Friday.

Then, as now, Murphy, who said he had not heard Oliver’s comments, advocated for investing in community services like health care and education but not at the expense of law enforcement budgets.

“Forget about what you say. Where do you put your money?” the governor said Friday. “Is it where your mouth is?”

The Defund the Police movement advocates for redirecting some law enforcement moneys to community services, the argument being that social workers and their ilk would be better suited to administering some services currently handled by police.

Contrary to what its name suggests, the movement broadly does not advocate for the abolition of police.

The movement hasn’t gripped New Jersey in the same way as it has other states. Authorities in the state have taken steps to increase transparency around police shootings, including mandating the Office of the Attorney General investigate all deaths stemming from an encounter with law enforcement.

“I’m going to say, as a badge of honor, while nothing is perfect and we all know that, not only have we come a long way … but I’d hold us up against any other place in the nation,” Murphy said.

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