Massachusetts Attorney General Candidate Supports Defunding The Police

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Defund the police?

It’s a policy supported by one candidate for attorney general in Massachusetts.

Former Boston city councilor Andrea Campbell, 39, advocated for defunding the police in 2020 and 2021. The latter year, she was a Boston mayoral candidate.

Most who use the phrase don’t mean eliminating public funding of law enforcement. The phrase “defund the police” generally means “reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality,” according to The Brookings Institution.

When Campbell ran for mayor, one tenet of her campaign was to “reallocate at least 10% of the Boston Police budget,” according to her campaign’s web site

She noted that in 2020, the department had a $414 million budget, just over $60 million of which was for overtime. She wanted to reallocate $50 million of that overtime budget “to invest in public health, economic justice, and youth development strategies.”

“Andrea has been a leader in pushing the City to reimagine the role of police in Boston,” her campaign web site said. “She has championed reallocating funding from a police budget bloated with overtime, detail pay, and hefty salaries, to chronically underfunded mental health treatment and services, youth development, re-entry programs, and violence prevention and intervention programs and initiatives.”

In August 2021, she told GBH News that she had two ways she planned to save on police overtime:  eliminate the four-hour overtime minimum in police union contracts and use civilian flaggers instead of cops on details to save money on policing.

“I would invest that in mental health supports addressing trauma, moving people out of poverty, investing in our education,” Campbell told GBH News, “and, of course, other community-based organizations that have been doing the work to solve and intervene and prevent violence in the first place.”

And in June 2020, when Campbell first came out in favor of defunding the police, she told GBH News what the phrase meant to her.

Here is what she said on GBH’s Greater Boston on June 11, 2020 on the matter:


I was just talking to some constituents around this sort of defunding language, and when we talk about defunding in the context of schools, for example, it doesn’t sound so radical. I think with the police department, it does, because people have different meanings for it. I do not mean abolish our police department. 

Defunding does not mean that for me. What it means is We need to think critically around:  is policing the model we want to use when eradicating health disparities, preventing violence, getting at poverty, creating greater economic opportunity through schools? No, we don’t want to do it through our police department. We want to do it through our health commission. We want to do it through other organizations on the ground. 

And so, how do we take resources from this department in particular? And particularly, the inefficient spending, right? And redirect that to programs and initiatives we know to work — and we can do more. Even youth jobs, we just had a hearing on that. We could do more for youth jobs. And so, we need to start and be really courageous and bold.


Campbell’s support for defunding the police came shortly after George Floyd’s death in May 2020. The unarmed black man died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Campbell represented District 4 (Mattapan, Dorchester, and parts of Jamaica Plain and Roslindale) on the city council from January 2016 to January 2022. She didn’t seek re-election in 2021. Instead, she ran to be the next mayor of Boston. She came in third place in the preliminary election, receiving 19.72 percent of the vote; it was lower than the tallies of Michelle Wu (33.36 percent) and Annissa Essaibi George (22.48 percent), so she did not advance to the general election. However, she got the endorsement of The Boston Globe and fared slightly better than Kim Janey (19.47 percent), the city’s acting mayor at the time.

Campbell is one of three Democrats running for attorney general. The others are Brookline attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, and Quentin Palfrey, the Democratic Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor in 2018. So far, there are no Republicans running for the post.

Campbell’s campaign could not be reached for comment on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday this week.


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