During her confirmation hearing Tuesday morning, President Joe Biden’s Associate Attorney General nominee Vanita Gupta insisted that she does not support “defunding the police,” although statements she made last summer would indicate otherwise.
“I do not support defunding the police. I have, in fact, spent my career advocating, where it’s been necessary, for greater resources for law enforcement for things like body-worn cameras, officer wellness, and safety programs, and any number of measures,” Gupta said Tuesday.
Gupta’s new assertion contradicts her testimony in June before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which she proposed a “shrinking [of] the footprint of the criminal legal system, including police, in black and brown people’s lives,” among other statements.
“It means shifting our approach to public safety away from exclusive investments in criminalization and policing, toward investments in economic opportunity, education, health care, and other public benefits,” Gupta said. “This paradigm not only furthers equity, but also constitutes effective policy: When we stop using criminal “justice” policy as social policy, we make communities safer and more prosperous.”
“Ultimately, it is becoming clear that Congress must redirect government dollars away from policing practices rooted in the criminal-legal system and the carceral state, and toward policy goals that reflect a vision of public safety that promotes community health and safety,” Gupta also said in June.
Sen. Ted Cruz R-Texas pressed the Biden nominee on her prior “defund the police” rhetoric, attempting to get a clear answer of Gupta’s legitimate position.
“Were the quotes I read inaccurate?” Cruz asked Gupta.
— Forbes (@Forbes) March 9, 2021
“Those statements reflect conversations that I’ve had with sheriffs across the country, police officers, police chiefs, civil rights activists, who have been talking to me for years … We have placed so many of our nation’s social problems at the feet of police … We have expected law enforcement to be the only go-to solution,” Gupta responded to Cruz. “…This is an issue that unified law enforcement and civil rights advocates, and unity leaders, who are seeking alternatives to incarceration.”
In a 416-page report published in March by Gupta’s interest group, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, she argued for “community policing” and the banning of law enforcement from schools. The report states:
A community policing model may require changes in departments’ staffing levels, deployment patterns, and the like, which can require cutting costs, raising additional funds, and/or using resources more efficiently. Studies suggest that insufficient resources and/or inefficient resource allocation block effective implementation of community policing initiatives. Fortunately, departments don’t necessarily need additional funds to implement community policing initiatives; they may be able to secure adequate funding by reallocating or reinvesting existing resources. As such, government bodies that oversee police departments and department leadership should ensure that departments are using resources efficiently to promote community policing and that they are allocated equitably across neighborhoods served by departments.
On March 1, five attorneys general from Indiana, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma urged Biden in a letter to withdraw the Gupta nomination. The letter alluded to Gupta’s poor stance on law and order and prior calls to “defund the police.”
Gupta’s confirmation hearings this week in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee will continue to zone in on her controversial rhetoric before and after the summer Antifa riots.