Governor Abbott: Defunding the police is always the wrong move
Governor Greg Abbott says he is considering passing an act to prevent police brutality in Texas.
He says he met with the family of George Floyd, the man who died while in Minneapolis Police custody late last month, to discuss how the use of force should be applied across Texas.
"The type of force used on George Floyd..." Abbott says, "we want to make sure that's not used in the future.
Governor Abbott believes such legislature could be passed as soon as the upcoming legislative session.
"The best thing we can do to honor the memory of George Floyd is to respond to the challenge that we're dealing with right now," Abbot says.
He spoke specifically on race relations and says we cannot be defined by these horrible atrocities but instead need to find ways to come together to deal with these issues as a unified state.
Governor Abbot tells us that Texas is in the process of drafting legislation right now which should help speed up the process of enacting laws to create a more fair and equal society.
"We're not starting with a blank slate," Abbot tells us, "but instead we're starting already in motion."
But above all, Governor Abbot says we cannot defund the police. Instead, he encourages communities to rely on their local peace officers.
"Broadly speaking, defunding police is always the wrong move," said Abbott.
He wants to see a better relationship between the police and the communities they serve.
"Our law enforcement officers need better training," Abbot says, "both before they go onto the streets and also on an annual basis."
He says the first and most important role of our local police is to be peace officers who are actively involved in their local communities.
"They're not just there to make arrests," Abbot explains, "they're there to ensure peace in the community."
Governor Abbott points to the dedication from police officers to protect and serve the people as they took to the streets to protest here in Texas.
Governor Abbott also spoke to us on the status of the state's response to COVID-19.
"The number of tests have increased even more than the number of people testing positive," he said.
He points to that as a positive sign that the re-opening process is going well. Abbott tells us surge response teams have been effective at containing the spread at hotspots across the state like jails, meatpacking plants, and nursing homes.
Governor Abbot says the only way to revive our economy is to continue the re-opening process.
"What we really need to do is to continue re-opening businesses," Abbott tells us, "the goal is to get people off the unemployment lines and to get them to return to their jobs."
He explains that Texas was the leading state in terms of GDP before the economic slowing caused by COVID-19. Abbott says state legislators aim to get back to that status as we continue the re-opening process.
"You are seeing some ways in which Texas is leading the economic recovery," Abbott tells us.
He says the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport was the busiest airport in the world for the month of May, and that means Texans are starting to adapt to social distancing as we re-open the Texan economy.
"The only way we'll be able to continue that trend," Abbott pleads, "is by everybody making sure we continue these safe practices."
Abbott did not specify what practices but alluded to social distancing.
He also says it's difficult to determine what the timeline looks like for further re-openings because of the amount of people bunched in together at protests.
"This is the type of setting," Abbot says, "where COVID-19 could transmit far more easily."
He tells us it could take ten days to two weeks to determine what kind of impact the protests will have on the re-opening process.
But despite the ongoing protests, an active pandemic, and the start of hurricane season, Abbott's resolve to lead Texas has never been stronger.
He points to several teams of people ready to deal with whatever obstacle we must overcome.
"Texans are up to the challenge in the past. Texans are up to the challenge in the present," Abbott declares, "and if a tropical storm comes in, or whatever the case may be Texans will be there on the ready to make sure we respond and keep our communities safe."
Watch the full interview in the player above.