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Barr: Don't defund police, invest in them

Barr: Don't defund police, invest in them
© getty: Attorney General William Barr

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Merrick Garland on list to be Biden's attorney general: report DOJ dropping charges against ex-Mexican defense minister MORE said cities should not divest funds from the police, but rather increase their investments in law enforcement as police officers are asked to tackle a growing range of issues. 

In an interview with ABC News, Barr pointed to spending on education and other social programs, noting that local governments have a “will to spend money on those kinds of things,” a sentiment he suggested should be extended to law enforcement. 

“But I think we have to think about more investment in the police. Now part of it, as you say, is that the police are being called on to do more and more. Deal with mental illness, deal with homelessness, d-- deal with drug addiction where they don't have the training and the-- and the-- expertise sometimes to deal with it,” he said. 

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The remarks come amid a national conversation over systemic racism and police brutality that was sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis in May.

Activists have called for a series of reforms, with “Defund the police” emerging as a rallying cry for many demonstrators. While a small number of protesters are calling for completely divesting from local police departments, most are instead calling on diverting some funds away from law enforcement and toward other social services.

Barr said instead of moving funds away from the police, he’d support boosting resources for other social projects to help complement police department’s work.

“So one of the things we've been talking about-- is-- trying to direct the [Department of Health and Human Services] money and grant programs and sync it up with law enforcement spending so we can enable the departments to have what are called co-responders. That is social workers, mental health experts and so forth who can go on certain kinds of calls to help,” he said.

Funding to police departments has emerged as another stage in a burgeoning culture war over racism and the police. Republicans and some high-profile Democrats, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Biden says staff has spoken with Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful' MORE, have resisted calls to support moving funds, though the GOP has seized on the concept to accuse Democrats of wanting to scrap law enforcement all together. 

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“Democrats want to Defund & Abolish Police. This despite poor crime numbers in cities that they run. CRAZY!” President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE tweeted this week.