ALBANY, N.Y. -- The lieutenant governor of New York said he and the governor share the same priorities when it comes to public safety in the state.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday that nobody in her administration supports defunding the police. Hochul also noted during a press availability the phrase itself had "very negative connotations."
The statement, however, came as a a bit of a surprise since Hochul's handpicked lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, had previously tweeted support for the movement.
"I support the movement to defund the police because I believe that there are parts of the NYPD budget that are not essential for public safety," Benjamin tweeted in January.
During his campaign for New York City comptroller, he said if elected he would launch a programmatic audit of the city's police spending to provide a blueprint for "responsibly defunding NYPD."
Spectrum News 1 asked him Friday if his stance has since changed given Hochul's comments. He said the thinks there has been some confusion about his position.
"My stance has always been that police budget needs to be reflective of the needs for public safety, and to the extent that that is happening, then I am perfectly okay," Benjamin said.
The lieutenant governor said he supports Hochul on the topic because they both want to make streets safer while also making sure there is police accountability. He did not use the phrase defund police Friday or call for decreased public safety budgets.