- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 2, 2020

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said Wednesday that the Defund the Police movement is a “masterful” idea that is getting lost in the branding.

“This is a spine-chilling and nightmarish name for a masterful idea,” the Missouri Democrat told Fox News. “‘Defund the police’ — I wish we could get rid of that title. What I think most people are supporting is the reengineering of police.”

“Nobody with an IQ at room temperature wants to shut down the police department,” he declared.

Mr. Cleaver suggested he’s more in support of police reform than a literal defunding, saying police should be better trained to handle suspects with issues like mental health.

“Most of the people I know are saying the same thing, and that is we need to alter the way in which we send police out into the community,” the congressman said. “Change is uncomfortable, even change from bad to good is uncomfortable. But nothing is as uncomfortable as remaining stuck in the mud. This is an excellent opportunity for us to change and change for the better. I want police and I want good police.”

Mr. Cleaver’s comments came in response to New York City this week slashing $1B from its police department budget and funneling the money into things such as youth programs and social services.

There has been some confusion among Democrats what “defund the police” really means. Moderates say it’s about police reform but some prominent left-wing voices such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say it should be taken literally.

“Defunding police means defunding police,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday, arguing that the NYPD cuts didn’t go far enough. “It does not mean budget tricks or funny math. It does not mean moving school police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education’s budget so the exact same police remain in schools.

“It does not mean counting overtime cuts as cuts, even as NYPD ignores every attempt by City Council to curb overtime spending and overspends on overtime anyways,” she said. “It does not mean hiring more police officers while cutting more than $800 million from NYC schools. … This is not a victory. The fight to defund policing continues.”

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