Massachusetts Democratic Attorney General Candidate Supports Defunding The Police

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Should we defund the police?

One Democratic attorney general candidate in Massachusetts thinks so. 

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

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 of her priorities was to “reallocate at least 10% of the Boston Police budget,” according to her campaign’s web site

On her campaign web site, Campbell said that in 2020 the department had a $414 million budget. She pointed out that just over $60 million of that money 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 mayoral 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.”

Campbell further explained her plan to GBH News in August 2021. She said there were two ways to save money on police overtime:  eliminate the four-hour overtime minimum in police union contracts and use civilian flaggers instead of cops on details.

“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.”

Campbell first came out in favor of defunding the police in June 2020. 

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 began supporting defunding the police shortly 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. She instead for mayor of Boston. She came in third place in the preliminary election, receiving 19.72 percent of the vote; it was lower than the vote shares of Michelle Wu (33.36 percent) and Annissa Essaibi George (22.48 percent), so Campbell did not advance to the general election. However, she got The Boston Globe’s endorsement and did 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. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican state committeeman Jay McMahon, an attorney from Bourne, in the November general election. 

While Liss-Riordan and Palfrey haven’t weighed in publicly on the defund-the-police movement, McMahon is a strong opponent of it.

“Defunding the police is not an option,” McMahon said in a press release in April. “This dangerous anti-police agenda is really an ‘Anti-Society’ agenda. To allow this agenda to flourish would in essence create the ‘Law of the Jungle’ on our streets! The protection of all citizens, especially the most vulnerable amongst us, is most paramount.”

Campbell’s campaign could not be reached for comment on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday this week. Lisa-Riordan’s campaign and Palfrey’s campaign could not be reached Monday morning.


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