Crime has been a major issue in many midterm races across the country and it quickly became a flashpoint between Gov. Brian Kemp and his Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams during Sunday’s gubernatorial debate.
When the moderator noted that Atlanta was experiencing record violent crime, Kemp insisted he was on the front lines of addressing this problem – identifying street gangs and cartels as a problem before others paid attention .
But he quickly pivoted to criticize Abrams as an ally of progressive groups that sought to “defund the police” following the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020.
“We are not the local police department,” Kemp said. “I am not the mayor. I am the governor.
“Go check the file, because Ms. Abrams on CNN got asked the question, would she fund the police? And she said, yes, we have to reallocate resources. It means cutting the defunding of the police,” Kemp said.
But Abrams said Kemp was lying about his record. She noted that under her leadership, violent crime and gun violence increased in Georgia.
“Guns are the number one killer of our children. We have the ninth highest rate of gun violence in the country. Domestic gun violence has increased 18% under this governor, and his response has been to weaken gun laws in the state of Georgia,” she said.
Abrams added that Kemp was misrepresenting his record on police funding.
“I believe in public safety. I did not say, nor do I believe, in defunding the police,” she said. “He lies again. And I never said that. I believe in defunding the police. I believe in public safety and accountability.
Abrams offered to provide $25 million in state grants to local agencies for law enforcement pay raises.
In June, Kemp joined Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a new police station in the affluent community of Buckhead in Atlanta.
Kemp at the time touted state and local law enforcement working together to fight crime in Atlanta.
“Public safety knows no political boundaries,” Kemp said. “Whether you’re Republican, Democrat, or don’t care. You want your neighborhood to be safe, you want your streets to be safe and that’s what today is all about: fulfilling the government’s #1 duty by protecting its citizens.