Omar defends call to dismantle Minneapolis police: You can't reform a department 'rotten to the root'

Omar defends call to dismantle Minneapolis police: You can't reform a department 'rotten to the root'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOmar fends off primary challenge in Minnesota The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden picks Harris as running mate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump to Democratic negotiators: 'They know my phone number' MORE (D-Minn.) defended calls to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department following the killing of George Floyd, saying the department in its current state can’t be reformed. 

“You can't really reform a department that is rotten to the root. What you can do is rebuild,” Omar said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

“And so this is our opportunity, you know, as a city to come together and have the conversation of what public safety looks like, who enforces the most dangerous crimes that take place in our community,” she added. “And just like San Francisco did, right now, they're moving toward a process where there is a separation of the kind of crimes that solicit the help of, you know, officers and the kind of crimes that we should have someone else respond to.” 

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The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously on Friday to explore a new safety model for the city. The officials will engage in a yearlong process of community engagement to create a new model for safety in the city. 

Host Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperJuan Williams: Keep the spotlight on Trump's COVID failure Chicago mayor: We can't let federal officials 'play police' in our city Coronavirus testing czar: Nobody on task force 'afraid to bring up anything' to Trump MORE asked Omar to clarify her position on dismantling the police. 

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“Just to be clear, you're not saying that there's nothing that takes it place?” Tapper asked. 

“Absolutely not. I think that's really where the conversation is going wrong,” Omar responded. “No one is saying that the community is not going to be kept safe. No one is saying crimes will not be investigated. No one is saying that we are not going to have proper response when community members are in danger.”

“What we are saying is the current infrastructure that exists as policing in our city should not exist anymore and we can't go about creating a different process with the same infrastructure in place,” she added.

Omar said the way forward is to dismantle the department and look at funding priorities in order to reimagine a new system. 

Asked about Democrats opposed to calls for defunding the police and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenNAACP seeks to boost Black voter turnout in six states Biden touts Trump saying Harris would be 'fine choice' for VP pick Kamala Harris: The conventional (and predictable) pick all along MORE’s proposal to increase funding for community policing, Omar said it “sounds ludicrous.” 

“It sounds ludicrous to me to have 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. “If you had a company that wasn't producing, you wouldn't just pour money, more money, into it so that it would produce. You would step back and say what — let's look at what works, what doesn't work and how do we move forward?”

The congresswoman also said the issue needs to be addressed on a municipal and state level and that federal lawmakers should support officials as they move forward.  

“I happen to represent a city that is eager and ready to take on this call and deliver, and there are many other cities that are doing this,” she said. “We do more damage when we say to these people that they're — we don't believe in their ability to govern their cities and serve their constituents. We do better when we say, what do you need in order for you to provide for you constituents a way forward? And we're going to be there to support you and cheer you on as you figure out how to keep everyone safe.”