U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says law enforcement groups are being unfairly criticized in the media and in public debate over police violence.
Paul spoke on Thursday at the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association meeting in Bowling Green where he denounced the idea of defunding police.
“Of the killings that are going on in Louisville, they have more murders per capita than Chicago. You would think by what you read, it’s the police killing people in Louisville. No, it’s people killing people in Louisville," stated Paul. It’s not an easy problem to fix. I’m not here to say I know how to fix the murder problem in Louisville, but I know it’s not getting rid of the police.”
Senator Paul told the gathering of law enforcement they are too often under-appreciated. The Republican lawmaker credited police with keeping him and his wife safe after they were confronted by a swarm of angry protesters in Washington D-C last year. Some yelled “say her name,” a reference to Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by Louisville police.
Paul is seeking re-election next year, and the most high-profile challenger to enter the race so far is Democratic former state Representative Charles Booker of Louisville, who has been a leader in the protest movement against the police killings of unarmed Black Americans. Paul didn’t mention Booker by name, but said any idea of defunding police is extreme and unpopular with Kentuckians.
Booker has not advocated for the elimination of all police funding, but has called for increased support for public safety programs he says would help de-escalate many situations that result in violent encounters between citizens and law enforcement.
Booker issued a statement through his campaign on Thursday.
“As Rand Paul well knows, I've made it abundantly clear that I support fully funding community safety. And my record shows it," said Booker. "My experience over the years working with cities across Kentucky and across the country, including men and women in uniform and our emergency services, to address violence and crime in our communities as a public health crisis. I've made it very clear that I believe that everyone should be safe all across this Commonwealth and that's what I'm fighting for."