His comments came during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday in response to a question from Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., about how the Minneapolis Police Department — which is down 200 officers since before COVID-19 — can improve morale more than a year after former officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd in May of 2020.
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
“On the defund police issue, the department does not support defunding police, nor does the president,” Garland said. “So, we’ve asked for more than a billion dollars — a major increase in funds for local police departments.”
Garland added that the DOJ’s civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department announced in April found that there was “general agreement that there were problems” within the department.
Minneapolis Police descend on the long stretch of Lake Street in Uptown just before sunset to dismantle barricades erected by protesters June 15, 2021 in Minneapolis. (Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP)
“This does not mean that every police officer — quite the contrary,” Garland said. “This means that … from talking to many police officers, that they believe that it’s important that there be accountability and that officers who break the law are held accountable so that the community retains its trust in the good police officers who do not break the law.”
He continued: “And that’s the only way they can be safe, and that’s the only way the community can be safe. So I think police officers should look at these investigations in a positive way, and we are trying to present them.”
Minnesota news station WCCO, a PBS affiliate, reported Oct. 18 that the Minneapolis Police Department has lost nearly 300 officers since 2020 and is seeking an additional $27 million in funding amid an increase in violent crime and a lack of sworn-in officers.