U.S. House candidates on the issues: Responding to Black Lives Matter protests

The State Line Road March in Prairie Vill

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead of November’s general election. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for the U.S. House seat covering Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District.

We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day each day this week. Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item #1:

Protests over police treatment of Black Americans have roiled the country since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. What changes to law enforcement policy would you support to ensure that Black Americans do not face increased risk of harm or harassment at the hands of police?

U.S. House

Amanda Adkins (Republican)

Every American is entitled to the equal protection of the law, and where we fall short, we must do better. Anything less is unacceptable. That’s why I support increasing transparency surrounding police use of force and “no-knock” warrants, expanding the use of body cameras, and sharing employment information so that officers fired for misconduct can’t shuffle from agency to agency undetected. As in every profession, there are those who do not meet standards and fail in their fundamental responsibility to serve and protect. There is no room for these “bad apples” in policing.

Ultimately, however, we have to remember that the vast majority of police officers are brave men and women with a heart for service. They perform a dangerous, difficult job admirably and selflessly. They play a critical role in keeping our communities safe places to live and work, and they deserve our appreciation and support. We have to work to strengthen community relationships so that the horrific actions of a few do not overshadow the important work of the many officers serving us every day. Strong community-police relationships make communities safer.

We are safest when police are well-equipped, well-trained, and well-funded, recruiting from a strong pool of talent. Radical calls to “defund the police” would decrease law enforcement agencies’ policing capacity, increasing response times and damaging agencies’ ability to detect and deter crime. In the longer term, it would make attracting new talent to the profession more difficult. Pulling back the tools, training, and backup officers need in the field is dangerous. Disparaging honorable officers as components of a system “rooted in violence,” as my opponent has, is divisive and destructive.

I’m proud to have the endorsement of Sheriff Calvin Hayden, Johnson County’s top law enforcement officer. In Congress, I’ll work closely with Sheriff Hayden and other local law enforcement leaders to provide the support they need to accomplish their mission safely, accountably, and transparently. Ensuring the safety and security of all our families is the most basic responsibility of government, and it lies at the heart of what makes our district a great place to call “home.”

Sharice Davids (incumbent Democrat)

Like a lot of people, I recognize that too many lives have been lost to injustice in this country. Kansans and people across the country are raising their voices and demanding change, and that’s exactly what this moment calls for. I recently voted for the Justice in Policing Act, which would enact comprehensive reforms to law enforcement to increase transparency and accountability while improving police training and practices. I also believe we should work with our police departments to ensure they aren’t saddled with issues that could be addressed in other ways, such as mental health and addiction.

Police play an important role in our communities, and we should make sure they have the tools and training necessary to do their jobs well. That’s why I’ve voted to fund essential training and equipment for law enforcement and to improve community policing and response to school emergencies. At the same time, we must work to enact meaningful reforms to our police departments that create accountability and provide for the safety of all people. In my conversations with local law enforcement officials, I’ve heard repeated support for these efforts. They are necessary steps to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to protect and serve.

Steve Hohe (Libertarian)

First of all, law enforcement is there to serve and protect the public as a whole.

Second, to defund law enforcement is a step backward not forward. Doing this is transforming the public into the same level as wild animals.

Third, most law enforcement are trained in conflict resolution. They would rather resolve it in the field than bringing in suspects. Each state and all states should take this moment and start looking at their law enforcement policies and procedures at the state and local level and see if they effective and fair to the public.

Forth, assuring that all officers are properly trained by a state police academy, and officers who move from another state and join the force of that state must have same level of training. In addition, they must know what expectations and what targeted outcome are expected. This must be from top to bottom.

Fifth, the public should be aware or expect how they must interact with law enforcement in their precinct, town or state via the media.

Sixth, police should be accessible to the public and separate from the precinct, a public affairs department should be properly manned to respond to public grievances.

Seventh, the use of body cams and dash cams to record all interactions with the public. Body cams should be standard issue and used when interacting with the public. Also procedures and policies must be set in place also. They should be different levels of transparency to police videos, in regards to the sensitivity of the victims and the accused. In addition, body cams can increase court procedures and be used as a training tool.

Tomorrow, we will publish the U.S. House candidates’ responses to item #2 on our questionnaire: 

By the end of this year, the federal debt will be nearly equal to the size of the entire United States economy. The deficit has been exacerbated in recent years by the 2017 tax cuts and the stimulus package enacted at the start of the pandemic. How big a priority to you is lowering the federal debt? What specific steps would you support to reduce it?