Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland confirmed on Monday that he does not support defunding the police, but did note that he is in favor of giving more funds to alternative policing methods.
Garland was asked about the growing “defund the police” slogan during the first day of his confirmation hearing, where he spoke in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Garland echoed President Joe Biden’s comments regarding defunding the police and said he does not support the initiative.
“As you no doubt know President [Joe] Biden has said he does not support defunding the police, and neither do I,” Garland said after being asked about the idea by Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley. “We saw how difficult the lives of police officers were in the bodycam videos we saw when they were defending the Capitol. I do believe in – and President Biden believes in – giving resources to police departments to help them reform and gain the trust of their communities.”
Garland continued on to note that while he doesn’t back defunding the police, he does believe that America needs “to put resources into alternative ways of confronting some actors,” such as mentally ill and suicidal individuals. He said doing so will prevent police officers from doing “a job that they’re not trained for and … do not want to do.”
“Those resources need to go to mental health professionals and other health professionals in the community so that the police can do the job that they’ve trained for and so that confrontations, if possible, do not lead to deaths and violence,” Garland said. (RELATED: Biden’s AG Pick ‘Very Concerned That Foreign Terrorist Organizations Will Try To Hit’ America Again)
Biden has said that he doesn’t support defunding the police but has also signaled support for re-directing funds from police to other initiatives and programs. In December 2020, Biden appeared to criticize the push to defund the police when he reportedly said during a phone call that it “beat the living hell out of” Democrats on Election Day.
“That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police. We’re not. We’re talking about holding them accountable,” Biden said according to audio obtained by The Intercept.
Calls to defund the police rang out throughout 2020 as Black Lives Matter groups consistently protested and rioted across the country following the death of George Floyd in May.