LaTurner doubles down on claims that De La Isla wants to defund the police, De La Isla responds

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 6:36 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Support for law enforcement remains a hot topic in the 2nd Congressional District race.

“This is a critical election and there are big differences of opinion between myself and Mayor De La Isla," said republican candidate Jake LaTurner, "One of the biggest differences between us is I support our law enforcement officers.”

LaTurner has put out a new ad he said shows democrat Michelle De La Isla has been defunding the police.

He points to a city of Topeka annual report from 2019 that displays a cut back in employees within the department from 2013 to 2019, after De La Isla was elected.

She responded saying, “The fact that somebody would use their time to create misinformation in a community, to tell the citizens of my city of Topeka that their police department is at risk after their budget has been increased substantially, is very concerning.”

LaTurner said nearly 30 full-time employees have been cut from the Topeka Police Department from 2013-2019.

“There has been a 10% reduction in police jobs since she’s been there and I think that you see the result of that when you see that violent crime is up over 40% during her time on the city council and as mayor,” he added.

De La Isla said, “The council and the mayor do not deal with staffing levels at the police department or any other department, other than the city manager and the only thing that we do is approve that budget.”

She said she supported a 14% increase in officer’s salaries, totaling over $5 million.

“For Mr. LaTurner to say that I have had any part in defunding the police after the budget shows that what we’ve done is approve increases is nothing other than a gross misrepresentation of the facts," De La Isla said.

LaTurner responded saying, “If you support them you should want them to have the resources that they need and the employees that they need.”

13 NEWS looked into which employees were impacted by the 10% reduction LaTurner mentioned. The city said no sworn officer positions were cut.

TPD has maintained 295-300 sworn officers every year since 2013.

Civilian positions at the department have been cut from a high of 65 in both the 2013 and 2014 budgets, to 55 this year and budgeted down to 43 in 2021.

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