Tudor Dixon pitches $1 billion law enforcement funding increase

Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon said increasing Michigan law enforcement funding by $1 billion over four years would be a “top priority” of her administration, rolling out the first in a series of policy proposals eight weeks before the general election.

At a press conference Tuesday in Grand Rapids, Dixon placed responsibility for a rise in violent crime in Michigan squarely on her Democratic opponent.

“Gretchen Whitmer has failed to do her job and keep the people of Michigan safe,” Dixon said. “Her embrace of radical anti-police policy sent a message to police that she doesn’t have their back and to criminals that they may do as they please.”

The fix for what Dixon’s campaign has deemed “Whitmer’s Violent Crime Wave” is a plan, detailed only in broad strokes, to spend in areas they assert law enforcement has been neglected.

In a release, Dixon’s campaign said the plan would “recruit and retain” more than 12,500 officers between local and state police, firefighters, paramedics and corrections officers. She would allot $700 million to that effort — about $56,000 per first responder — proposing they be offered perks like stipends during training and free hunting licenses. Another $250 million would be allocated to equipment, training and mental health support, with a final $50 million dedicated to forensics lab expansions and tracking down fugitives.

Dixon’s chief strategist James Blair said the campaign intends to unveil five plans in the coming weeks focusing on “each of the major areas of government” as the pillars of her campaign platform. Public safety is the first.

“While Gretchen Whitmer continues her dishonest gaslighting campaign, Tudor Dixon will tell the truth and hold her accountable for her record of death, destruction and despair,” Blair said in a statement.

A smattering of elected officials and law enforcement was on hand for the roughly 15-minute announcement. They stood across from Grand Rapids Police Department headquarters, which has been fronted by a concrete barricade since former officer Chris Schurr fatally shot Patrick Lyoya in early April.

Related: Pivotal hearing delayed again in Patrick Lyoya’s killing by ex-Grand Rapids police officer

Experts and advocates note the causes of rising and falling crime rates are complex and are rarely influenced by a single cause.

Dixon’s running mate Shane Hernandez was on hand and said that during his time in the legislature it took painstaking negotiations to increasing funding for law enforcement. He pointed to Michigan’s current budget surplus as a source of funding for the proposal.

“With Tudor Dixon as Governor, there will be a partnership making sure that our men and women in uniform have the resources they need going forward,” Hernandez said.

Related: Grassroots plus GOP establishment: What Shane Hernandez brings to Tudor Dixon’s ticket

Maeve Coyle, a spokesperson for Whitmer’s campaign, turned to Whitmer’s record to counter Dixon’s accusations.

“As a former prosecutor, public safety is a top priority for Governor Whitmer. She has worked across the aisle to support law enforcement with the tools they need to keep Michiganders safe, including increased resources to hire more police and strengthen training,” Coyle said in a statement.

Coyle said the 2021 budget included a 12 percent funding increase for the Michigan State Police and that the total number of police officers in the state has increased under Whitmer’s administration.

Dixon will face Whitmer in the general election Nov. 8.

Read more from MLive:

‘Republicans For Whitmer’ group unveiled in bid for crossover support

Millions in Pro-Whitmer spending gives Michigan Democrats the advertising edge this fall

Tudor Dixon agrees to Oct. 13 debate with Gretchen Whitmer

Macomb County GOP asks federal court to decertify the 2020 election

Campaign finance filings show Tudor Dixon’s campaign at ‘critical juncture’

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