AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – “Defunding the police is always the wrong answer,” said Governor Greg Abbott Friday during an exclusive interview with CBS 11.
Gov. Abbott said it would be “extremely wrong and erroneous” for local communities to defund the police.
Instead, he said more police officers are needed along with better funding, training and equipment.
On whether the Texas Legislature should pass a law that outlaws defunding police departments, Gov. Abbott said, “I think it’s a bad idea to defund police and it is something I would look at to make sure that no community has the ability to defund police. It’s complicated because that would insert the state into controlling the budgets of local governments and so it’s a complex issue to dig into.”
In response to the killing of George Floyd, Gov. Abbott said he is forming a work group of state lawmakers, including members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, after he was criticized for not including them on discussions about policing reform.
The governor said he wants to prevent police brutality and the use of excessive force.
“But there are some broader-based issues we want to address and that is we want to heal this divide, a racial divide that we have in the state of Texas,” said Gov. Abbott.
As Covid-19 cases keep rising in Texas, the governor opposed a request by local leaders to mandate individuals wear masks.
But he gave his blessing to a plan by Bexar County officials to mandate businesses require their customers to wear masks or the owners would face fines.
Governor Abbott chastised local government leaders for not realizing they had the authority to do that since June 3, when he signed his latest Executive Order.
Some business groups say the mandate will hurt them, but the governor disagrees.
“It establishes a level playing field for all businesses so that you don’t have one business implementing a mask strategy and another business that’s not doing so,” he said.
Gov. Abbott also said when students and teachers to school for the new year, school districts will not face a statewide mandate for requiring masks.
“We want to ensure flexibility for different school districts and different regions across the state of Texas.”
Governor Abbott said the Texas Education Agency will make a formal announcement next week so students, teachers and parents will know what to expect next school year.