Calls to "defund the police" earlier this year in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis stuck with voters when they cast ballots this year and may have hurt Democrats at the polls, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said in a radio interview.
"I think 'defund the police' went too far," Cuomo said. “I think law and order makes a difference in people's lives."
Some lawmakers in New York at both the state and federal level have been supportive of adding resources to mental health services to respond to calls that have in recent years been handled by law enforcement. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio shifted $1 billion from the NYPD's budget in response.
“I think ‘defund the police’ was a really unfortunate expression," Cuomo said. "I don’t believe anyone meant it literally."
Cuomo this spring called on local governments and law enforcement agencies to undertake a review of their own policies with representatives of the community. They are expected to develop and submit a reform plan by April 1 or risk losing state aid.
Republicans have knocked Democrats over the calls to defund police as well as a package of recent criminal justice law changes that ended cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.
It may be too early to judge how this has affected the elections earlier this month.
Democrats could ultimately have a net gain seats in the state Senate after picking up victories in Buffalo and Rochester. Counting of absentee ballots will continue in a central New York Senate race as well as districts on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.
But Republicans were able to hold seats in key suburban swing areas, including the House district vacated by Republican Rep. Peter King.