New York's incoming lieutenant governor supports the movement to defund police departments.
Gov. Kathy Hochul (D., N.Y.) selected Brian Benjamin, a Democratic state senator from Harlem, to serve as her number two, according to the New York Times. Hochul assumed office on Tuesday following the resignation of Andrew Cuomo, who faced impeachment following an investigation into his sexual harassment of nearly a dozen women.
Benjamin has been a vocal supporter of police reforms and the Black Lives Matter movement. He came out in favor of the defund movement in January and said he would audit the New York City Police Department and find ways to reallocate portions of its $5.4 billion budget.
"I support the movement to defund the police because I believe that there are parts of the NYPD budget that are not essential for public safety," Benjamin said.
Benjamin has also supported reforms to the parole system and an end to the use of cash bail that critics have blamed for a spike in crime in New York.
The chairman of the New York Republican State Committee criticized Hochul's selection of Benjamin, citing his support for the defund movement.
"New Yorkers are being shot, stabbed, raped, robbed, and attacked in huge crime surges across our state and Kathy Hochul doubled down on Democrats' dangerous agenda by appointing a ‘Defund the Police' radical leftist to serve as her second in command," said Nick Langworthy.
The White House and other Democratic leaders have downplayed support within the party for the defund movement. President Joe Biden accused Republicans of "lying" about Democratic support for the cause, even though influential Democrats, including members of the "Squad," have called for defunding police departments. White House press secretary Jen Psaki has accused Republicans of being in favor of the defund movement because of their support for cuts to most federal programs.
Both Hochul and her predecessor supported reforms for police departments, but neither expressed support for the defund movement. Cuomo said in his farewell address on Monday that calls to defund the police are "misguided" and "dangerous."