HOUSTON – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed his back-the-blue pledge in Houston on Wednesday as he continued calls to stop efforts aimed at cutting police budgets.
“They are disgraceful and they are reckless," Abbott said. "It invites crime into our communities and it endangers law enforcement officers and their families.”
Abbott spoke at the Houston Police Officers' Union and was joined by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, among others.
The governor has been crisscrossing the state, signing his pledge which encourages lawmakers to prevent measures that would defund police departments.
“It’s a commitment to fight any efforts at any level to defund the police,” Abbott said.
Abbott said he has already called on the state legislature to pass laws that would prevent money from being diverted from law enforcement agencies.
“We have a duty to support the men and women who risk their lives to keep us safe,” Abbott said.
Abbott also said that he is considering whether the state should take over policing in certain parts of Austin after the city government cut the Police Department’s budget by a third.
“We will not allow that core function to be undermined by the cities that seek to defund and dismantle the law enforcement agencies that have a sworn duty to preserve and protect their communities," Abbott said.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has called for more funding to support social services to take the pressure off of police officers who have to respond to issues that he said shouldn’t necessarily fall to law enforcement.
Turner has said Houston increased its police budget by $20 million after enacting reforms.
Patrick praised Turner’s efforts and called on Democrats who are running for the legislature and Congress from the Greater Houston area to follow their lead and do the right thing.
“They are not a Republican. They are doing the right thing,” Patrick said. “The judges in this county are not. The DA is not. Police go out there and put their lives on the line, arrest someone and they are out the next day ... hardened criminals."
Dane Schiller, spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, issued the following statement about Patrick’s remarks:
“We work hard every day to protect the public and hold criminals accountable. Texas law is crystal clear: bail is set by judge, not prosecutors. It is a judge’s duty to decide when, how, and if a defendant should be released on bail pending trial.”
You can watch Abbott’s entire news conference in the video player below.