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Opinion: Now more than ever, candidates should oppose efforts to defund police

In the wake of the deadliest year in Kansas City’s history, with more homicides than ever, our elected leadership needs to be doing more to address violent crime. Kansas City is not alone in this spike in violence. St. Louis has likewise seen dangerous killings and officers shot in the line of duty. Violent criminals are targeting police and threatening our communities.

Our Kansas City Police Department has a tough job as it is, which is about to be made even more difficult in light of the proposed cuts to their budget. Mayor Quinton Lucas and the Kansas City Council are proposing an 11 percent cut to the police budget. I think this method of defunding the police will leave Kansas City less safe now and in the future.

I wish that my opponent had the same concerns. Unfortunately for the people of the Northland, James Shackelford has clearly taken a stand against our police officers. He has chosen to support radical voices to restructure the police and even showed up to multiple Kansas City protests.

Mr. Shackelford is promoting massive structural and foundational change to law enforcement, and this is clearly not the right option given the surge in violence throughout our city. There is only one entity equipped to deal with violence — including robberies, shootings, and murder — and that is law enforcement. We are not talking about finding ways to help mentally ill people in need of resources or people struggling with drug addiction in need of therapy; we need our officers to stop violent criminals roaming the street and seeking to do harm. There may be merit to looking at alternatives to traditional policing in terms of non-violent offenses, but when there are violent criminals looking to do harm, society requires a police force capable and ready to respond. 

Furthermore, there is a shadow of doublespeak when candidates claim to represent the interests of unions and then work directly against the stated interests of that union. Even while we undertake the important task of reforming our criminal justice system, we cannot continually demonize our police officers. 

I have always stood by effective law enforcement, and they have been working especially hard in light of the recent violent crimes in our city and the attacks against officers in our state. I am proudly endorsed by both the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police and the Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99. I seek to represent our police officers who risk so much to keep us safe. 

It is important to recognize that in this race for the Missouri House, the representative for the people of the Northland will help decide policies on law enforcement that will have an impact statewide. My opponent proposes radical agendas to cause massive structural changes that would affect every corner of this state. I do not think it is wise social policy to experiment with radical, untested methods on a statewide scale.

I believe in necessary criminal justice reform to make our laws more equitable and to treat our citizens fairly. I do not believe in calls to defund the police, abolish the police, or to demonize our officers. Kansas City’s crimewave shows there is a need for a fully-funded police force. For the sake of the safety of our citizens, we cannot risk attacks on our police officers or jeopardizing their ability to combat crime. That is why, unlike my opponent, I believe in rallying for our officers, not against our officers.