IN. State Senator looks to ban Defunding the Police across the state
LA PORTE COUNTY, Ind. - "Defund the Police" has been a rallying cry for Black Lives Matter and social justice activists across the country for the last several months, but one Indiana Senator said he does not want to see that happen in Indiana. Senator Mike Bohacek, a Republican representing La Porte County, announced Wednesday that he will be introducing legislation to the Indiana General Assembly that prohibits municipal governments from defunding the police.
"We'll certainly send a pretty clear message as to what the desire is of the state," Senator Bohacek said. "The bottom line is we do not want public safety to be used as a political bargaining chip."
The way Bohacek's bill is written now, allows for city governments to decrease funding to fire and police departments to adjust for any loss in tax revenue, but no more than that. South Bend Common Councilman Henry Davis, Jr. said this bill is government overreach.
"This right here is just a really bad response to what's going on nationally," Davis said. "I would again, challenge the senator and say to him if he wants safety, the State Government will invest more in education. It will invest more in infrastructure. It will invest more in job training and jobs in Indiana. It will invest more in the things that not only keep people busy but happy."
Davis said the State Government has no business telling cities how they can spend their money. Senator Bohacek said that is not what the bill is at all.
"Well, it's really not big brother," Bohacek said. "This is the will of constituents throughout my district and, quite frankly, the state. They want assurances that they will have a quality, responsive, well-funded public safety program."
Bohacek said his goal is to keep public safety from becoming political, but Jorden Giger of Black Lives Matter South Bend said it's too late for that.
"For him to say that he does not want public safety to become a political issue or become politicized during budget setting seasons, that's just a lie," Giger said. "Even right now, our own FOP is actively bargaining with the City of South Bend."
Bohacek is up for re-election in November. His opponent Gary Davis said he does not support defunding the police but felt the bill is not necessary.
"I don't think it's necessary because I've talked to a number of State Senators and State Senate candidates and to also local La Porte County Democrats," Davis said. "Nobody supports defunding the police, at least not in the Democratic Party. I haven't heard anyone say that."
Bohacek only announced a preliminary draft of the bill. As it is written, if cities are facing a budget shortfall, the bill provides for a revenue lifeline so that police and fire departments don't bear the brunt of that shortfall. It will go through a number of votes in the Indiana General Assembly in 2021 which could include changes to the bill. It's possible it could look different if and when it becomes law.