DA Flynn opposed to defunding police departments

"I've heard a lot of dumb ideas in my life over the years..."

Brendan Keany
July 13, 2020 - 1:32 am

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. April 9, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)


BUFFALO (WBEN) - The concept of defunding police departments is a common theme being advanced by demonstrators nationwide, including here in Buffalo of late.  The movement comes with calls to entirely eradicate departments as we know them or shift the funding to other efforts intended to thwart the need for traditional policing.

Many law enforcement leaders are reacting with concern and even angrily at the notion, including the top prosecutor in Erie County.

On Friday afternoon, Erie County DA John Flynn held a press conference with Tonawanda officials to announce an arrest in connection to a May murder, in which 22-year-old Joshua Wilson allegedly beat 71-year-old Diane Wolfe to death inside her home with a gardening tool.

In noting the impressive lae enforcement work that was done to allegedly solve the case, Flynn took the opportunity to denounce a sentiment that has become quite popular in recent weeks.

"Today's arrest, in my opinion, crystallizes how important police agencies are," Flynn began. "There is a movement afoot, not only here locally but across this country, to defund police departments. I've heard a lot of dumb ideas in my life over the years, but that may be at the top of the list."

"This case is a classic example of the need for professional law enforcement officers who are not only out there solving the crimes, but who are out there finding the bad guys."

Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Joe Emminger echoed much of what Flynn had to say.

"We had this defunding phrase going on a couple weeks ago - I called Chief Stauffiger the next day, and I assured him that the Town of Tonawanda will not be defunding our police department," said Emminger. "I think most elected officials will tell you that public safety is the number-one concern, and it's easy to talk about public safety when you're running for election, but this is the time where you need to step up and defend and support our public safety and our police department."

Flynn went on to say that he's all for reforming certain aspects of law enforcement, but he simply doesn't believe pulling funding is the way to do it.

"I have no problem with reform; I have no problem with mental health professionals working with police agencies; I have no problem with social workers working with police agencies," he said. "But at the end of the day, who's going to solve this crime? A social worker? A mental health specialist? They're going to solve this crime? The answer to that is 'no.'

"What I'm advocating against is defunding law enforcement officials and personnel in order to fund that," Flynn continued. "That is not the answer - the answer is to find the money and add them on."

Listen to Flynn's full comments below:

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