Hochul breaks with new Lt. Gov. over calls to ‘defund the police’

Hochul breaks with new Lt. Gov. over calls to 'defund the police'

Gov. Hochul made a sharp break with her incoming lieutenant governor, State Sen. Brian Benjamin, rejecting the “defund the police” movement he has embraced.

“Governor Hochul does not support defunding the police,” Hazel Crampton-Hays, her press secretary, told The Post. “In the Hochul Administration, public safety and justice and accountability in policing are not mutually exclusive, and we are glad to partner with soon-to-be Lieutenant Governor Benjamin on these priorities to keep our communities safe.”

Benjamin, 44, has represented Harlem in the State Senate since 2017 and has a long track record of aligning himself with the far left — making “defunding the police” a central component of his failed campaign for city comptroller this year.

“As New York City Comptroller, Brian will investigate 20,000 cases of police misconduct to find patterns of abuse,” reads a narrator in a campaign ad in which he also promised a full audit of the NYPD budget.

Gov. Kathy Hochul does not support her Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin's stance on defunding the police.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has described herself as a moderate “Biden Democrat.”
Matthew McDermott

“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 in a January tweet touting his candidacy.

“Our goal must be to use the powers of the office to prioritize more public safety measures, not more law enforcement.”

Benjamin has also supported the state’s disastrous bail-reform laws and the plan to close Rikers Island.

“The Senator agrees with Governor Hochul that public safety and accountability in policing are not mutually exclusive. He looks forward to supporting her agenda.” Neil Reilly, a spokesman for Benjamin, told The Post.

Before politics Benjamin was a top executive at Genesis Companies, a troubled real estate firm. He was born in the neighborhood, the son of Caribbean immigrants, and later received degrees from Brown and Harvard universities.

Hochul lauded her centrist credentials during her first week in office and recently described herself as a moderate “Biden Democrat.” But President Biden has long stated his opposition to defunding cops and, along with most other national moderates, has been looking to get the idea dead and buried before the 2022 midterm elections.

Unlike past lieutenant governors, Hochul says Benjamin’s job won’t just be window dressing. In a ceremony announcing his selection, she called Benjamin a “partner” and said he would be working with her “side by side in the trenches.”

“It shows that Kathy Hochul has just lurched very far to the left and I expect her to do that with many other policies as she tries to appease the loudest liberal voices in the room,” Andrew Giuliani, a GOP candidate for governor in 2022, told The Post.

He also laced into Benjamin over the issue. “It shows the guy just doesn’t really care about the facts at all and the challenges that are facing New Yorkers,” he said.

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