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McAuliffe defends record on public safety during sheriffs’ conference

Democratic candidate for Governor Terry McAuliffe defended his record on public safety during a...
Democratic candidate for Governor Terry McAuliffe defended his record on public safety during a statewide conference of the Virginia Sheriffs' Association.(wdbj7)
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 7:10 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - One day after Republican Glenn Youngkin addressed the state’s sheriffs, Democrat Terry McAuliffe took his turn in front of the group.

McAuliffe defended his record on public safety during a session that also included a testy exchange with a local law enforcement official.

“I got out of bed every single day, wanting to make sure that our communities were safe,” McAuliffe told members of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association meeting this week at the Hotel Roanoke.

McAuliffe said his record as governor showed his support for the state’s sheriffs, both in terms of protecting public safety, and providing better pay for deputies and other law enforcement officers.

“I could go for issue after issue after issue where I stood up for the sheriffs,” McAuliffe said, “and I will continue to do it.”

But 24 hours after Youngkin questioned McAuliffe’s record on public safety, McAuliffe received some pointed questions from sheriffs who support Youngkin. That included Montgomery County Sheriff Hank Partin, who is featured in a Youngkin campaign advertisement.

McAuliffe was asked if he would veto legislation ending qualified immunity protections for law enforcement officers.

“I never want anybody who is out there in good faith protecting us worried that they’re going to be sued. I wouldn’t support that. I didn’t before, I had sheriffs’ back on every single issue when I was governor. I’m not going to change it this time around,” McAuliffe said.

“That’s why they call it qualified immunity. It doesn’t go to those who break the law, but if you’re acting in good faith, you’re going to get 100% protection. And I will be there. And I will guarantee that,” McAuliffe said.

The exchange became heated when Partin questioned McAuliffe on an endorsement he received from a group the sheriff said supports defunding the police.

“Unbelievable,” Partin said after McAuliffe responded. “I don’t believe an answer to either one of those questions.”

“Well, I don’t care what you believe,” McAuliffe responded. “I’ve got a track record. And I’m proud of that track record and I funded the police. I’ve never been for defund the police, so don’t bring your political rhetoric in here to me. I’ve got a record. I deal in facts!”

McAuliffe and Youngkin will meet for their first debate Thursday night at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy. The debate will air at 7 p.m. on WZBJ24.

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