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El Paso County Commissioners discuss law enforcement funding in wake of Floyd protests

EL PASO, Texas -- The national conversation surrounding the potential for defunding police departments has come to the Borderland.

A preliminary discussion about police funding was opened on Monday by El Paso County Commissioner David Stout during the commissioner's meeting.

He spoke about the concept of 'participatory budgeting' while the commissioners debated a resolution aimed at condemning the killing of George Floyd while also calling for change in local law enforcement agencies as well as including a review of the sheriff’s budget.

However, not everyone was on board.

Most notably, Commissioner Carl Robinson was the dissenting vote on the resolution.

“Sometimes I listen and we talk out of both sides of our mouth like we have forked tongues," said Commissioner Robinson. "We have done a great job of weeding out the bad apples and we can't paint a broad brush over everyone because of a few bad police in Minneapolis."

The resolution passed with a 4-1 vote.

“I grew up in the police department with almost 30 years of service," said Commissioner Carlos Leon. "I will say that there is much change needed nationwide. I was recently in a conversation with Congresswoman Veronica Escobar and the committee that she is putting together to address this very issue."

Commissioners also spoke about the recent protest in Memorial Park that ended with the firing of rubber bullets and gas canisters by police.

Comissioner David Stout added that he found himself unhappy with how police had interacted with demonstrators and even specified some areas where money from law enforcement could be moved to enhance other social services.

“We can provide housing instead of jailing people. We can spend money on community based anti-violence programs instead of gang units, we can spend more on mental health and trauma services.”

And there were two other resolutions voted on and passed by the commissioners on Monday.

One was a resolution recognizing the legitimacy of the Black Lives Matter movement and another adopting June 2020 as "Pride Month" in El Paso County.

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Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon is a former ABC-7 reporter who co-anchored Good Morning El Paso weekends.


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