Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said the “defund the police” movement would endanger Georgian communities and signed a bill into law on May 7, forbidding large budget cuts for local police.
“Today, I am proud to sign [HB] 286 to protect law enforcement budgets and ensure the safety of local communities across Georgia,” Kemp said in a statement.
“Defund the police” became popular among leftist activists following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in May 2020.
Proponents of “defund the police” argue that governments should spend less on law enforcement and more on social services to address racial problems.
In Atlanta and Athens-Clarke County officials debated cutting or redirecting law enforcement spending, but they ultimately rejected the proposals.
The new law allows for some exemptions, such as cities and counties whose revenues decline by more than 5 percent or cities and counties with fewer than 25 officers.
The law also requires local governing authorities to hold public hearings if they wish to decrease the police budget by more than 5 percent.
Most Democrats criticized the law, saying it restricts local control over public spending.
“Listen, I support local control, but when you have local governments that are out of control, I knew we had to act,” state Rep. Houston Gaines said of Athens-Clarke and Atlanta. The Republican is a sponsor of the bill.
“While we’re fortunate these proposals didn’t pass the first time around, we can’t let it happen,” Gaines added.
“Some want to defund the police. We’re funding the police and then some,” DeSantis said at the time.