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Tudor Dixon wants to present Gov. Whitmer as the Defunding the Police candidate, when both the Republicans and Democrats are calling for increased police funding in Michigan

September 15, 2022

On Tuesday, the Republican Gubernatorial candidate, Tudor Dixon, stood in front of the Grand Rapids Police Department and laid out her plan for funding police in Michigan if she wins the election against current Governor Gretchen Whitmer in November.

According to an MLive article, Dixon is proposing a $1 Billion increase in funding over a four year period, for the police and other first responders. Here is the breakdown from the MLive article:

Dixon’s campaign said the plan would “recruit and retain” more than 12,500 officers between local and state police, firefighters, paramedics and corrections officers. She would allot $700 million to that effort — about $56,000 per first responder — proposing they be offered perks like stipends during training and free hunting licenses. Another $250 million would be allocated to equipment, training and mental health support, with a final $50 million devoted to forensics lab expansions and tracking down fugitives.

You can read a more detailed account of the proposed $1 Billion over 4 years for cops and first responders at Tudor Dixon’s campaign site.

What is interesting about the proposal on the campaign site, is that there is language about Gov. Whitmer, claiming that crime has gone up in Michigan on her watch and that she has “defunded” some law enforcement programs. One would expect this, considering that candidates are in competition and always want to make their opponent look bad. 

The MLive reporter did reach out to the Whitmer camp to get a reaction. They did quote a spokesperson for the Whitmer campaign, Maeve Coyle, then wrote: 

Coyle said the 2021 budget included a 12 percent funding increase for the Michigan State Police and that the total number of police officers in the state has increased under Whitmer’s administration.

I’m sorry, but this is just plain lazy journalism. Sure, go ahead and get a response from the Whitmer camp, but then do you own work on verifying the claims of either candidate. 

A More Honest Journalistic Response

Here is what the 2023 Michigan Budget includes for policing for a 1 year period, which we wrote about in July, which clearly shows that Gov. Whitmer is committed to police funding:

  • $9.2 million to support a Trooper Recruit School (general fund) anticipated to graduate 50 new troopers in addition to the 120 troopers that are anticipated to be hired and trained using existing attrition savings. This investment allows the department to increase enlisted strength to nearly 2,200 while continuing to increase the diversity of uniformed personnel. 
  • $3.7 million to improve Data Collection during Traffic Stops (general fund) through the development of new tracking and documentation systems including a benchmarking dashboard and increasing data collected during traffic stops to allow for easier review and analysis of traffic stops made by the State Police. These improvements will build upon the recommendations of the recent Michigan State University Traffic Stop Study. 
  • $3 million to expand Training and Professional Development (general fund) to provide training on cultural competency, implicit bias, and decision-making to expand positive interactions between department members, minority groups, and the diverse communities that the department serves. 
  • $1.8 million to establish a Victim Services Program (general fund) that will support 14 full-time Victim Advocates across the state. These positions will serve to support victims’ needs early in their interactions with the criminal justice system while also building partnerships with community organizations in support of victim advocacy. 
  • $1.1 million to increase the department’s capacity to Prevent, Detect, and Investigate Cybercrimes (general fund). This investment will support statewide investigatory assistance and digital forensic examinations to further the department’s position as a leader in areas of cyber security, computer crimes, and digital evidence. 
  • $1 million for Trooper Recruitment (general fund) to broaden the racial, ethnic, and gender makeup of the department to make it more representative of the communities it serves. This investment will support digital marketing campaigns, recruiting events, and improved public relations to assist the department in achieving its recruiting goals for enlisted positions.

Clearly, Gov. Whitmer has not been engaged in any defending of police departments, despite the claims of the Dixon campaign.

Therefore, the MLive reporter failed to do their own investigation of how Governor Whitmer has already adopted a 2023 Budget, which provides a significant increase in funding for the police. In addition, the reporter could have looked at how much money Gretchen Whitmer has received from police unions in Michigan. The website, No More Cop Money provides data on police union campaign contributions to all elected officials in Michigan, which you can access here.

The MLive reporter could also have talked to Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young to get a response for why she stood with Dixon on Tuesday, or any of the other area legislators and cops who were present to endorse the GOP candidate. That, of course, did not happen.

Lastly, the MLive reporter could have asked the basic question about Dixon’s police funding plan and how adding more cops would reduce crime. This is a basic, but critical question, because there is plenty of research that shows that having more cops does not reduce crime. In fact, policing in general is not an effective strategy to combat crime, based on this excellent report from the group Interrupting Criminalization, entitled, Cops Don’t Stop Violence.

In the end the public is left with the top two gubernatorial candidates fighting to out do each other on funding for the police. Where is there a candidate that supports defunding? They are no where to be found in Michigan, which is exactly why social movements like the Movement 4 Black Lives and other grassroots groups are engaging in direct action to get local police departments to defund, instead of relying on a political system where both parties want to increase funding for cops.

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