Since the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, protests have sprung up across the country. From them, a new call to “Defund the Police” has emerged.
While not one unified set of demands for reform exists, some common themes can be found at the forefront of the discussion.
The Texan asked every member of the Texas Senate whether they supported or opposed the following proposals:
- The complete abolition of police departments
- Using funding to leverage policy changes in the police departments
- Shifting large portions of funding to community resources
Legislators were given the option to respond in the following ways:
- Yes, I support all of the stated proposals.
- No, I support none of the stated proposals.
- Or, respond with a brief statement further specifying or clarifying your position.
Their responses are listed below. If a member replied after the deadline, an asterisk will appear next to their name.
To see how Texas House members responded, click here.
To see how the Texas congressional delegation responded, click here.
|Bryan Hughes (R)||1||No|
|Bob Hall (R)||2||Did not reply.|
|Robert Nichols (R)||3||Did not reply.|
|Brandon Creighton (R)||4||Did not reply.|
|Charles Schwertner (R)||5||Statement||"I believe a strong judicial, legal, and law enforcement system is a bedrock tenet of our country. I do not support defunding law enforcement."|
|Carol Alvarado (D)||6||Did not reply.|
|Paul Bettencourt (R)||7||Did not reply.|
|Angela Paxton (R)||8||Statement||"I oppose defunding the police. Rather than defund the police, we should invest in the honorable officers who selflessly defend and serve the public with the training, equipment, and knowledge they need to do their job right. Law and order apply to everyone, including those who are sworn to uphold it. The vast majority of officers know and abide by this. Those who do not don't deserve to wear the uniform."|
|Kelly Hancock (R)||9||No|
|Beverly Powell (D)||10||Did not reply.|
|Larry Taylor (R)||11||Statement||"The State of Texas does not directly fund local law enforcement agencies. In 2015, I was proud to support a budget that included a $10 million state grant program to which local municipalities could apply to purchase body-worn cameras. Many law enforcement agencies in Senate District 11 have already begun to utilize body-worn cameras which, when used properly, provide transparency and accountability. I will continue to advocate for the body-worn camera grant program for law enforcement agencies next legislative session. In the meantime, I encourage communities and community leaders to have an open and honest discussion with their law enforcement agencies to keep everyone in our communities safe."|
|Jane Nelson (R)||12||Statement||“While I recognize the need for criminal justice reform, it is misguided at best to suggest we should de-fund law enforcement and I would strongly oppose any effort to do so.”|
|Borris Miles (D)||13||Did not reply.|
|John Whitmire (D)||15||Did not reply.|
|Nathan Johnson (D)||16||Did not reply.|
|Joan Huffman (R)||17||Did not reply.|
|*Lois Kolkhorst (R)||18||Statement||“For the avoidance of any doubt, I do not support the calls to defund or dismantle our law enforcement agencies. There are ways to improve our public safety and social challenges and I look forward to reviewing and reforming those issues during the next legislative session.”|
|Pete Flores (R)||19||Statement||"Sen. Flores, a career law enforcement officer, believes in law and order; any effort to "defund the police" is dangerous to public safety and puts the lives of Texans at risk." — Flores spokesperson|
|Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D)||20||Statement||“While I do not support defunding the law enforcement men and women who work tirelessly to keep our communities and families safe, I am a strong supporter of reform and changing the culture of police. Such reform includes increased transparency in the disciplinary process, eliminating bad practices such as chokeholds, excessive use of force, and too many other techniques and procedures bad cops have abused over the years. We need to reform the system by increasing transparency in our police department, create independent investigations to review misconduct allegations, and hold bad cops accountable and responsible for their actions. The vast majority of our law enforcement officers are good police officers but we have to find a way to weed out the bad cops that taint all police officers.”|
|Judith Zaffirini (D)||21||Did not reply.|
|Brian Birdwell (R)||22||Statement||“No, I do not support any proposal to defund and/or disband police departments. However, those decisions are made at a local level by city councils with the authority over police departments. While I do not support such a decision by a local geopolitical subdivision to defund the police, that decision, and its consequences, lie with the locally elected city council, and ultimately with the citizens who elected them."|
|Royce West (D)||23||Did not reply.|
|Dawn Buckingham (R)||24||Did not reply.|
|Donna Campbell (R)||25||Statement||"Senator Campbell does not support these proposals. In a letter to the mayors and city councils in her district she says, 'Defunding our police force would breed chaos, anarchy, and multiple unintended consequences. In order to maintain a civil and free society, we must uphold just laws and train good police officers to fairly and unbiasedly enforce them.'" — Campbell spokesperson|
|Jose Menendez (D)||26||Did not reply.|
|Eddie Lucio (D)||27||Did not reply.|
|Charles Perry (R)||28||No|
|Jose Rodriguez (D)||29||Did not reply.|
|Pat Fallon (R)||30||No|
|*Kel Seliger (R)||31||Statement||"Local law enforcement agencies are funded at the local level and I believe that the constituents of Senate District 31 know the needs of their communities better than anyone else. That said, I believe police forces are in need of a full period of introspection and self-examination. I recognize the benefits law enforcement plays in keeping our communities safe but those same communities should be representative of their police culture and leadership. I encourage communities to have an open and frank dialogue about proper policing and use of force.”|
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McKenzie Taylor serves as Interim Editor and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.