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Push to 'defund the police' becomes hot topic since the death of George Floyd

West Palm mayor says he doesn't support eliminating police department
Defund the police protest sign
Posted at 4:20 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 18:18:21-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A plea to "defund the police" has become a popular call to action among protesters since the death of George Floyd.

But what actually does that mean?

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Some have claimed it simply means reducing a city's current funding for police and moving those resources to community development and other social services.

However, some have a radical notion to dissolve police departments altogether.

“No, we’re not talking about eliminating [police] at all,” said Weidmayer Pierre, a protest organizer in Palm Beach County.

At 19 years old, Pierre has organized several protests in the last two weeks in Palm Beach County.

Pierre is working to explain what defunding the police means to him, which he says is cutting back on police spending.

“I feel like they have more gear than the actual Army, like (they are) ready for a fight in Iraq or something,” said Pierre. "Crime has been decreasing in the past 20 years, so why does your budget keep going up?"

Pierre said money currently used by police could more effectively be used for programs supporting mental health and creating more opportunities for people living in disadvantaged areas.

RELATED: Trump, Biden not supportive of defunding the police

West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James said he is not in favor of eliminating the police department.

“To make a blanket statement that … every police department’s budget should be cut, I can’t make that broad a statement. Again, every department in the city, their budget should be reviewed carefully,” said James.

John Kazanjian, the head of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, said many departments are already struggling with understaffing.

“Really, that is not the answer to defund the police department,” said Kazanjian. “That isn’t going to work. Who’s going to patrol the streets? Who’s going to arrest the criminals? Criminals ain’t going to take the day off.”

On Monday, President Trump held a roundtable discussion with members of law enforcement and rebuffed the notion, saying "there won’t be defunding, there won’t be dismantling of our police and there is not going to be any disbanding police."

During an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he did not support defunding police.

WPTV reporter Matt Sczesny is speaking Tuesday with local law enforcement agencies and will have a full report on News Channel 5 at 5 and 6.