Prioritizing Public Safety
September 7, 2020
by Terri LeGrand
My opponent, and dark money groups that are supporting her, have made false statements about my positions on public safety. Let me be clear. I do not support defunding the police. I’ve never said that and Joyce Krawiec’s trouble with the truth shows how desperate she is to win.
What I have said is that we should improve our systems of public safety to ensure we are protecting our citizens. The majority of Americans agree that we need to work together to improve law enforcement agencies. This is where my opponent and I disagree.
Policing is a critical service and key component of public safety. We need to assist the police so that they can effectively do their jobs. To do that we must continually look at what our officers are being asked to do and how they do it.
At the core of improving public safety is looking at our complementary services. Improving community support systems, such as services for mental illness and substance abuse disorders, will reduce calls to the police. Increasing affordable housing has been shown in other cities to significantly reduce crime. These are just two examples of community investments that can lower the crime rate and improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.
Criminal justice and prison reform, with an emphasis on rehabilitation and preparation for reintegration into society and the workforce, will further reduce crime. I support addressing the unique needs of female prisoners, looking into halting transfers of child offenders to adult facilities, and providing adequate religious resources for prisoners.
We need to follow Governor Cooper’s lead and the recommendations of the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, which recommends solutions to stop discrimination in our public safety systems. The task force correctly recommended that North Carolina’s law enforcement agencies adopt reasonable use of force policies, which at a minimum prohibit neck holds. Taking bold steps like this will prevent the loss of life in the future.
Importantly, we need to rebuild the trust between officers and the communities they serve. This requires that officers, community advocates, and elected leaders have a seat at the table when making decisions affecting policing. It means fair and equitable hiring practices and world class officer training. And it means addressing the ongoing issues of systemic racism.
The priorities of public safety and investing in improving our law enforcement agencies are not competing. They are necessary to ensure that the citizens of our community are safe. These are complex and difficult issues, but an elected leader who fails to understand that is not the leader we need to keep us safe. Unlike Joyce Krawiec, I won’t run from tough battles.