Get To Know Val Demings
One of the lesser-known names on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s list of potential Vice Presidential picks is Florida congresswoman Val Demings. A former police chief and social worker, Demings was first elected to serve Florida’s 10th Congressional District in 2012.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Demings grew up in a segregated low-income neighborhood and was bussed across town to a primarily-white school as a child. She attended Florida State University, where she majored in criminal justice. After briefly working in social work after graduation, Demings would go on to work for the Orlando police department for 27 years.
Demings attracted nationwide attention in January when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tapped her to be one of the five impeachment managers to present the case for the impeachment of Donald Trump to the U.S. Senate.
“As a career law enforcement officer, I have never seen anyone take such extreme steps to hide evidence allegedly proving his innocence,” she told the Senate.
Here are some key things to know about where Demings stands on the issues that matter to women:
- Demings and has spoken about the unconventional approach she took to reducing crime in that role. The Washington Post reported that Demings assigned officers to assist residents of an Orlando housing project by referring them to health services, planting trees, and fixing playgrounds, among other things.
- Critics, however, note that as police chief, Demings defended officers accused of misconduct, even when they were accused of excessive force.
- Because of this background, Demings has publicly commented on the role of policing in American cities, particularly since the death of George Floyd this spring. “When an officer engages in stupid, heartless and reckless behavior, their actions can either take a life or change a life forever,” she wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed. “Bad decisions can bring irrevocable harm to the profession and tear down the relationships and trust between the police and the communities they serve.”
- Demings has also called for better training and better pay for police officers. “As a nation, we must conduct a serious review of hiring standards and practices, diversity, training, use-of-force policies, pay and benefits,” she wrote in her op-ed. “Remember, officers who train police recruits are setting the standard for what is acceptable and unacceptable on the street.”
- On healthcare, Demings has been a vocal supporter of the Affordable Care Act. “The Trump Administration is dead wrong to side with big corporations in their sickening efforts to take away affordable care from millions of Americans,” Demings said of recent efforts to dismantle the ACA.
- Demings is also a stalwart supporter of abortion rights. “47 years after #RoevWade we must redouble our resistance against attempts to take us backwards,” she tweeted in January. “Women’s health is not negotiable. Women’s bodies belong to no one but themselves.”