Back in the summer of 2020 the ‘Defund The Police’ movement had reached a crescendo and was spreading, even becoming a popular rallying cry for the ‘progressive’ left here in Great Falls.
There were local protests and calls for defunding our own Great Falls Police Department as well as accusations of racism against local law enforcement.
Here is an excerpt from an email form letter sent to the Great Falls City Commission in June 2020. I received over a dozen of these emails that month, from both local and out-of-town senders:
“…I am demanding that real change be made to the way this city allocates its resources.
Support for communities in need is necessary now, more than ever. I am demanding that the City Commission meaningfully defund the Great Falls Police Department. I join the calls of those across the country to defund the police. I am demanding a budget that adequately and effectively meets the needs of at-risk Great Falls residents during this trying and uncertain time. I am demanding a budget that supports community wellbeing, rather than empowering the police forces that tear them apart.“
At the time it was obvious to anyone watching events unfold locally that several Great Falls Democrat candidates for the legislature were helping in organizing and supporting the protests and were driving some of the ‘Defund’ and related narrative.
That was then, this is now, and the hot rhetoric of the time has cooled in the face of the reality that public safety demands full funding for our local criminal justice system and law enforcement. What was hip and trendy for many at the time, ‘Defunding The Police’, is now seen as absurd and dangerous by citizens concerned about the safety of their families and neighborhoods.
And now that we are currently in the midst of a campaign for state legislature I have a serious question for local candidates: Exactly where do you stand on the issue of public safety and on funding and supporting our law enforcement folks?
That question goes to all of our local legislative candidates regardless of political party, but due to her past statements on the issue it’s important that one of them in particular clarify her position.
Democrat Melissa Smith, the losing candidate for HD20 in 2020, now running in HD23, and Secretary for the Cascade County Democratic Central Committee, has posted some troubling tweets concerning local law enforcement and public safety. Here are a few examples.
So, as a Great Falls City Commissioner and citizen who takes the issue of public safety very, very seriously and considers it the most important priority for government at all levels, I sincerely hope that Smith will clarify her positions on and attitudes towards law enforcement as she goes around town campaigning for public office.
I’m not under any illusions that she, or any other politician who may have said one thing then and another now, will respond to the question (though they should), but I am encouraging Great Falls voters to ask candidates what they said and thought about ‘Defund The Police’ back when it was a fad.
Ask them directly when you encounter them at your door, campaign events, or anywhere else.
Or you can email them. Here is Smith’s email address – MelissaSmith4HD23@gmail.com
All local candidates emails can be found here.
If candidate Smith’s past statements aren’t an accurate reflection of her thinking or an indication of how she would help shape and fund public safety policy if she were elected to state office then voters need to know that. It’s perfectly acceptable to honestly change ones views over time.
But it is wrong for candidates to avoid the issue and hide their actual beliefs right before an election because they think their true position will cost them votes.