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GOP gubernatorial nominee outlines $1 billion plan to support law enforcement

Kylie Ambu
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon announces a $1 billion plan to recruit and retain law enforcement officers at a campaign stop in Grand Rapids.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon made a stop in Grand Rapids on Tuesday to unveil her $1 billion "Building a Safer State" strategy. She said the plan would support law enforcement by putting money toward recruiting and retaining more first responders.

“We know if we are going to get violent crime under control we need more police to do it. We know if we are going to address the inequities, inefficiencies and inconsistencies in our criminal justice systems we need much more training and proper equipment and technology to do so," Dixon told the media during a press conference on Tuesday.

Dixon’s plan would allocate the dollars in three major areas: "Recruit and Retain," "Equip and Train" and "Find and Detain."

Dixon's strategy would put $700 million toward instruction support, youth engagement, recruitment marketing, and incentives to lure more public safety officers to Michigan. Among the incentives she listed were ensuring retirement benefits are preserved and providing free hunting and fishing licenses, as well as recreational passports. The funds would also create stipends to cover personal costs while public safety personnel train.

Another $250 million would go toward providing mental health support and de-escalation training. Funds would also be used to purchase body-worn cameras, riot gear, narcotics masks, and other materials.

$50 million would be allocated to help eliminate criminal justice backlogs by providing new lab facilities to process forensic evidence more quickly.

During her speech on Tuesday, Dixon blamed digital media, politicians and members of the media for raising calls to defund police. She promised if elected governor she would "never" allow law enforcement to be defunded.

"Certainly in our digital age, videos of tragic deaths like George Floyd going viral changed the public perceptions about the levels of police violence. At the same time, there were some elected officials and some in the media who sought to benefit from being viewed as 'tough on cops,'" she said.

Dixon used the Grand Rapids Police Department headquarters as a backdrop for her announcement. A former Grand Rapids police officer, Christopher Schurr, is facing second-degree murder charges for the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Congolese refugee Patrick Lyoya.

WGVU reached out to Dixon's campaign team asking if this was a consideration in the decision to hold the announcement in Grand Rapids. Her office did not respond. However, during the press briefing on Tuesday, Dixon's running mate, Shane Hernandez, told reporters the announcement could have been made anywhere in Michigan.

Dixon also cited "failed leadership" by current Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer as a reason for her plan to increase spending on law enforcement.

"Amid the summer 2020 riots and violence across the country, Gretchen Whitmer stated that she supports the spirit of the defund the police movement. Gretchen Whitmer has failed to do her job and keep the Michigan people safe," Dixon said.

Dixon and Whitmer are expected to hold a debate on October 13.