U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (NC-R) came to Parker’s Barbeque in Greenville on Sept. 29 for a roundtable discussion with local law enforcement leaders to discuss law enforcement issues and controversies surrounding police.
David Hess, chief of police in Roxboro, North Carolina, and Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes joined Tillis for the discussion. Tillis attended this discussion due to the current controversies following the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by law enforcement.
“So many people are turning their back on them (police departments). I want to let them know I have their back. Quite honestly, across this state we are seeing defunding marches, we’re seeing abolish the police chants, we’re seeing the Asheville City Council move to reduce substantial funding at the worst possible time,” Tillis said.
There have been many marches, chants, and protests that call for defunding and abolishing the police, according to Tillis. Law enforcement officers feel like they're under attack, Tillis said.
There is no doubt, Tillis said, in his mind that the majority of the American people love and support law enforcement. Tillis said his opponent, Attorney Cal Cunningham, is in favor of removing no-knock warrants; Tillis’ said his guess is that Cunningham has never witnessed a no-knock warrant while Tillis has.
“We’ve got to educate people in North Carolina, the American people and that's why we thought of having a roundtable and hearing from you all, how you are,” Tillis said. “I know morale is down. I know that your applications are down. I know that you're losing some of your senior officers.”
The best way to get things done is to have a discussion, Tillis said. He said discussions cannot be held when buildings are burnt and businesses looted.
Tillis has already proposed to reduce federal funding for sanctuary cities, and federal funding should be reduced for cities who defund the police, according to Tillis. Sanctuary cities are cities in America that do not deport illegal immigrants such as San Francisco, California.
“I think that the eligibility for any federal funding for law enforcement should be proportionate to whatever they draw down,” Tillis said. There’s got to be a consequence for them. On the one hand, reduce funding and expect the federal government to come in and back fill it or put federal agents in harm's way to work with local law enforcement.”
Defunding police is reckless, dangerous, and will get people killed; there has to be a consequence for what they are doing, according to Tillis. Any mayor or governor who supports defunding or abolishing police should do the same to their personal security detail, Tillis said. He said it amazes him when a politician comes up for a press conference, advocates defunding police and then is led out by armed law enforcement officers.
Tillis said when you dial 911, you are relieved when a police officer at your door. He said he never thought he would see the day that the City of Asheville voted to defund the police in July of 2020.
“I think most people lose sight of the average day of a law enforcement officer. You think about what they go through. A lot of them face trauma. They need support. Some of them need maybe therapy, or somebody to talk to and try to work through the things they deal with,” Tillis said.
Tillis additionally advocated for keeping no-knock warrants when there are dangerous people on the other side of the door. He said it is for the safety of everybody involved.
Tillis said he is against removing qualified immunity, removing no-knock warrants, and any town that defunds the police.
Qualified immunity for law enforcement officers gives them immunity from civil suits unless the plaintiff shows the officer clearly violated their rights, according to the Cornell Law School website. The website also said no-knock warrants are search warrants that do not require police to knock on the door before forcing their way in.
“Now what somebody’s going to do when they get rid of no-knock warrants is level the playing field and make it more likely when you knock on the door and you ask for their arrest, the first thing that convicted felon is gonna do is pick up that gun,” Tillis said.
When a felon picks up a gun it increases the likelihood of somebody getting hurt, Tillis said. He said people in America and North Carolina need to be educated, which is why he wanted to have the round table.