Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) challenged leftists calling for defunding the police, describing it as “wrong” in a Friday interview with Charles Payne on Fox Business.
“Defunding the police is the absolute wrong thing to do,” Massie said.
He then went on to rationalize his argument by suggesting defunding police departments could lead to an increased military role in law enforcement.
“Listen, we have a healthy history in this country of separating our civilian police mission from our military mission,” Massie said. “The military does one thing well, and that is to bring overwhelming deadly force to the enemy, using tactics and weapons that are different from the police force – so I think as long as we maintain that separation, that healthy separation, we need to fund, fully fund, our civilian police force, but we don’t need to turn them into the next army.”
In order to maintain these existing boundaries between the police and military, Massie was critical of attempts to transfer advanced military equipment to police forces.
“That’s fine if it’s body armor or 9mm weapons, but when you start transferring tanks and military drones, I think you’ve gone overboard,” he told Payne. “So I’ve got a history of voting to curtail that program, to limit it to only the weapons that are appropriate for a civilian police force. We don’t need to send them tanks and armored personnel vehicles.”
Despite this, Massie also affirmed his desire not to have the federal government interfere in attempts by local law enforcement to restore law and order. As a constitutionalist, he stated that he opposed proposed congressional regulations on police conduct.
“I think that should be left up to the states to legislate, and to the city mayors, to have policies,” he added. “I think a one size fits all, top-down solution from the federal government is bound to fail. It will inevitably tie the police’s hands in certain situations, while still authorizing unnecessary force in other situations.”
In the days following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, Democrats have suggested an array of extreme policies. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has advocated for defunding the police, while Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) has pushed federal police reforms that would undermine the historically local implementation of law enforcement in the United States. Although libertarians generally advocate for curtailing excessive police powers, they also support devolving power to localities and employing private law enforcement to supplement a scaled-back police force.