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Maryland Gov. Hogan opposes movement to ‘defund’ police

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, shown speaking at the State House in Annapolis earlier this week, says he's opposed to the movement to defund police departments in favor of violence prevention and social services programs.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, shown speaking at the State House in Annapolis earlier this week, says he's opposed to the movement to defund police departments in favor of violence prevention and social services programs. (Pamela Wood/Baltimore Sun)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said flatly that he does not support efforts to take money from police budgets to support community needs.

The policy change is known as “defund the police," and Hogan said in an interview that he thinks it is “a terrible idea.”

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Speaking during a recorded interview with Katie Couric that was broadcast online by TIME magazine on Thursday, Hogan said police, in fact, need more funding to improve recruitment, training and equipment.

Having a more diverse, better-equipped and better-trained police force is the best path forward, the Republican governor said.

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“Eliminating or defunding police is not the way,” Hogan said in the interview, which was recorded Tuesday.

The term encompasses a wide array of policy options, ranging from abolishing police departments entirely to reducing police spending in favor of putting more tax dollars into programs such as violence prevention, education and social services. The idea is to prevent crime and handle more conflicts in ways that don’t involve armed police.

The movement to defund police has gained new momentum in Baltimore and elsewhere as demonstrations in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police have reignited debate over appropriate policing strategies.

Local police departments are largely funded by city and county governments, though they often receive state and federal grants.

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Hogan said governments should support police budgets as well as education and social programs.

“You’ve got to do both,” he said.

Hogan said he’s already put record money into education, though much of state funding for public schools is dictated by funding formulas in state law.

He also vetoed a sweeping education bill that would have poured more money into public schools for specific needs such as increased teacher salaries and training, support for high-poverty schools and improved career- and college-prep programs.

Hogan previously was noncommittal about other policing reforms that have been proposed in recent weeks. State lawmakers have promised a renewed commitment to policing reform, which has inched forward in recent years.

The speaker of the House of Delegates assembled a bipartisan task force to consider proposals. And the chairman of the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee outlined a long list of reforms he wants to tackle, from improving civilian oversight of police to banning chokeholds.

Hogan has not endorsed any reforms, but said he would review any proposals put forth by the state legislature.

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