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Plan to offer bill to defund cities that defund police slammed, but expert says it’s possible
Friday, 16 October 2020 22:29

From Staff Reports 

HENDERSONVILLE — State Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Hendersonville, has been slammed by his opponent for re-election after he said, following a vote Sept. 22 by Asheville City Council to defund the police by 3 percent, that he plans to enter legislation to defund North Carolina cities that defund their police departments in the upcoming 2021 General Assembly session.

Edwards, who represents the 48th Senate District in the legislature, said he will propose a dollar-for-dollar reduction in response to Asheville’s council action, which he termed “reckless.”

 Meanwhile, Mills River Mayor Pro-tem Brian Caske — Edwards’ Democratic challenger in the Nov. 3 election — told the Asheville Citizen Times that Edwards’ was mischaracterizing the action by Asheville’s council, in Edwards’ charge that Asheville was defunding its police department, 

Specifically, Caskey said that Asheville, instead of defunding the APD, had reallocated spending to what he termed more appropriate areas, while removing the weight of responsibilities — such as animal control — from the police force, the ACT reported.

Through Edwards’ proposal to defund cities that defund police departments, the state senator is engaging in “a cheap political stunt,” Caskey was quoted by the ACT as saying. “My thought is he knows he’s going to lose his seat in November, and he’s desperate for votes. That press release tells Western North Carolina the same thing.”

The district represeents spans Henderson and Transylvania counties and borders Asheville on the east and north, but does not include any of the city. 

In his statement, Edwards said residents in his district own property and businesses in Asheville and are concerned with safety.”

“The senator says his idea is about ensuring police departments are properly funded and can provide adequate safety to city residents,” the ACT stated, “His proposal would call for defunding any municipality that defunds its police department, not just Asheville, dollar for dollar.”

What’s more, the ACT quoted Edwards as saying, “We should make no mistake about it — the city manager made the comment that this is initial, first step. So there’s huge concern among those who are interested in protecting their property and their lives in Asheville, (as to) whether or not city leadership has the fortitude to stand up to those radicals and make sure the Police Department has the resources to keep the city safe.” 

As to whether Edwards can defund Asheville to the extent that it defunds its APD, the ACT stated after reviewing the state Constitution and other sources, “In short, the answer is probably so” — meaning yes.

“The legislature has complete control over local governments by virtue of their broad authority in the state constitution...,” Frayda S. Bluestein, the David M. Lawrence Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government at the UNC School of Government, was quoted as saying by the ACT.



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