(The Center Square) – House Speaker Tim Moore condemned North Carolina Democrats on Monday for committing to a national campaign that includes defunding the police.
Nearly 90 elected officials and candidates from North Carolina took a pledge to model legislation to meet seven policy goals proposed by liberal advocacy group Future Now. One of the proposals calls for reallocating money from law enforcement to fund community-based programs.
“Law enforcement officers across our nation, in our state, are being targeted," Moore, R-Cleveland, said Monday. "I consider this pledge, signing this pledge, a direct attack on all those in law enforcement in North Carolina."
The legislative plan, called the Community Reinvestment Act, proposes creating a commission to review state and law enforcement agencies' budgets. The commission would work to "generate savings" to reinvest in youth programs, mental health services, housing, jobs, training and small businesses.
"Communities are safest when all residents have access to education, jobs and opportunities to build their lives – higher education and employment levels are associated with lower crime rates," the pledge states. "Police funding, on the other hand, has been shown to have no connection to crime rates."
About 50 North Carolina House members and candidates, including House Minority Leader Darren Jackson, D-Wake, signed the pledge to achieve the policy goals by 2030.
The Center Square reached out to Jackson and a handful of other House members who signed the pledge, but none provided comment.
About 10 percent – or $2.2 billion – of the state's budget was set aside for public safety in fiscal year 2020.
Activists tied to Black Lives Matter protests have called on the government to "defund the police." The movement quickly spread to social media and among political candidates.
Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said decreasing law enforcement funding would limit resources and could jeopardize the safety of North Carolinians.
The Community Reinvestment Act falls under Future Now's plan for achieving equal opportunity for all. They believe the legislation, along with improving police oversight, banning police use of military equipment and protecting victims from eviction, will help eliminate ethnic and racial profiling.
Former Pender County Sheriff turned state Rep. Carson Smith, R-Columbus, said those who took the pledge are "siding with the mob against law enforcement."
"This is not how it works. This is not leadership,” Smith said. “You don't dismantle a whole justice system like some want to do. You change laws and change policies if you disagree."