In an interview on “America’s Newsroom” with host Sandra Smith, Thiessen noted that while party leadership and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are trying to mitigate the issue, he would be going against his own constituents.
“This is a third rail for the Democratic Party and Joe Biden is trying to manage the issue. But, the problem is that he’s going against the will of his base, which is for defunding the police…” Thiessen explained. “This is what the Democratic base wants. They want to defund the police. And Joe Biden’s going to have a real hard time managing that.”
Calls to defund or disband police departments have been amplified in the weeks of nationwide protest and civil unrest following the death — recorded on video — of 46-year-old George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. One officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, staying on him even after he lost consciousness.
Some Democratic leaders have complied, slashing budgets over police unions’ objections. On Sunday a majority of the members of the Minneapolis City Council announced their support for disbanding the city’s police department. In an interview with CNN the following day, Council President Lisa Bender maintained that the ability to call the police when your home is broken into “comes from a place of privilege.”
On Monday, congressional Democrats — including the House Judiciary Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus — introduced sweeping legislation that would bring about wide-ranging reforms to police departments across the country.
The Justice in Policing Act would prohibit the use of chokeholds, lower legal standards to pursue criminal and civil penalties for police misconduct, and ban no-knock warrants in drug-related cases. In addition, it would also create a national registry to track police misconduct.
“The president of the City Council says it’s an act of privilege to call 911. Well, you know, sorry no. That’s not an act of privilege. That’s a basic responsibility of government,” Thiessen asserted.
He told Smith that the main obstacle to holding officers accountable lies in local police unions’ collective bargaining rules.
“The obstacle to police reform is unions. This is the problem for the Democrats … it’s the police unions who stop them through collective bargaining from firing bad cops,” Thiessen said. “We know who the bad cops are, most [of] the local police chiefs know, but they can’t fire them because of collective bargaining rules … If you want to take on this problem, you’ve got to get rid of collective bargaining at the local level.”
“There [are] a lot of black Americans who are in favor of law and order,” Thiessen noted. “If the Democrats became captured by their far-left wing and become the party of defunding the police, they could lose a lot of African-American votes as well. So, this is a very perilous issue for the Democrats.”