Bill would cut funding to NC cities, counties that 'defund' local law enforcement
Senate Republicans rolled out a proposal Monday to cut state funding to any city or county in North Carolina that disproportionately reduces the local budget for law enforcement.Posted — Updated
They also revived an issue that prompted pushback from sheriffs two years ago: requiring local authorities to hold people in county jails for federal immigration authorities.
"What we're seeking to do here is to ensure cities and counties who are receiving funds from the state continue to adequately fund their law enforcement, so their law enforcement can continue to do what they need to do to keep our citizens safe," said Sen. Danny Britt, R-Robeson.
Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, noted that Asheville's violent crime rate has jumped 16 percent over the last year as its number of sworn police officers has dropped by more than 60.
"Unfortunately, what is changing is the support from some communities toward the fine men and women that risk their lives to accept the responsibility to help us prevent anarchy," Edwards said. "We're seeing radical extremists launch vicious attacks on enforcing our laws right here in North Carolina."
"We need to get rid of the idealism that chaos should rule the day instead of law and order," Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin said.
Scott Mooneyham, a spokesman for the North Carolina League of Municipalities, said decisions on police budgets should be left up to local officials, not state lawmakers.
"The legislation does not even provide for spikes in police budgets due to spending on equipment, police cars and the like. The result, over time, would likely be the opposite of its sponsors’ intent – any police budget increases will be minimal to avoid potential budget decreases in the following year," Mooneyham said in a statement.
"Local budgets are decided by locally-elected officials responsive to local taxpayers," he added. "If those local voters do not like those spending decisions, they can vote those local officials out at the ballot box. They have no ability to vote out a state legislator from another part of state putting conditions on a local budget but which those local taxpayers fund."
“The proposed legislation, in its current form, seems to erode local control," agreed Kevin Leonard, executive director of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. "We have strong concerns about this version of the bill moving forward. Further, it seems this issue developed out of a very specific local issue in Buncombe County and Asheville, and that issue should be resolved there instead of involving all 100 counties."
Anyone found to be in the U.S. illegally must, under the proposal, be held for 48 hours so ICE agents can pick them up.
Sen. Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico, said that part of the bill has been revised to state that a jail administrator could face a misdemeanor charge for noncompliance.
"It takes people off the streets who should not be here in the first place and who are here and engaging in criminal acts," Sanderson said of the lehislation. "So, it makes our communities much safer."
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