Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 286 into law on Friday to prevent law enforcement from being defunded in the state.
In a symbolic gesture, the bill was signed just outside the city of Athens, which has proposed slashing local police budgets. State Representative Houston Gaines, a Republican who represents Athens, sponsored the bill.
Gaines spoke about the new law following the signing ceremony that said, in part:
Here in Georgia, we back the blue. And that’s why we’re here today – to say loud and clear that we support law enforcement, and that we’re going to keep families in our state safe.
Over the last year, we’ve seen radial calls to defund the police in cities across the nation. In cities like Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Portland – where local governments have slashed police budgets, crime has skyrocketed. Now those cities are working to restore that funding, and I’m glad to see them come to their senses – but it’s too late for the crimes that have been committed, the damage that has been done to those communities, and the lives lost.
Georgia, too, has seen calls to defund the police. Over the last several months, Atlanta and Athens have considered proposals to slash police funding. In Atlanta, an effort to cut $73 million from the police budget only failed by one vote on the city council. Last year in Athens – just down the road in my hometown, there was a proposal by county commissioners to cut 50% of the police budget.
Gaines noted in his remarks that crime is up 60 percent in Atlanta —an increase of 51 percent year to date.
“Now is the time to invest in law enforcement. We need to increase the pay of our police officers, add money in the budget for more resources, and stand by those who keep our communities safe. Because the reality is: defunding the police is a radical movement that will endanger our families and our law enforcement officers alike,” he added.