Months after Democrats pushed defunding, Biden seeks more police to stop violence
Biden crime plan also includes more gun control measures.
President Joe Biden unveiled a major gun regulation and crime prevention plan Wednesday as cities around the country struggle with rising violent crime.
Amid the wave of violence, Biden released a plan for more gun control measures and called on local governments to hire more police officers, a departure in rhetoric from some in his party who have pressured local municipalities to "defund" or cut back police.
“But what I would say to you is that the President has never supported defunding the police,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a Wednesday news briefing. “He’s always supported community policing programs. He’s supported giving funding to – to states and localities around the country, including through his American Rescue Plan, because he thinks there is an essential role to play for community policing.”
Biden's plan comes as violent crime steadily rises.
"Homicides were up 24% during the first quarter of this year compared to the first quarter of 2020, and up 49% compared to the first quarter of 2019," Zack Smith, a legal expert at the Heritage Foundation, said. "Unfortunately, many of the Biden administration’s proposed solutions, such as banning assault weapons – a category of weapons his own nominee to be ATF director had difficulty defining – and banning high-capacity magazines are political moves designed to please his base, but which will do little to make communities safer.”
Biden announced a series of gun control measures earlier this year, where he called for tightening rules on pistol modifications, ordered more study be done on gun trafficking, and targeted “ghost guns” created by 3D printers.
At the time, the president said that more proposed restrictions were to come.
“Whether Congress acts or not I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal to keep people safe from gun violence,” Biden said during his speech from the Rose Garden in April. “There is more Congress can do to help that effort. This is just the start.”
Biden made good on that pledge Wednesday, announcing a plan to combat “gun violence and other violent crime.”
“This strategy implements preventative measures that are proven to reduce violent crime, and attacks the root causes – including by addressing the flow of firearms used to commit crimes,” the White House said.
Biden’s plan would crack down on “rogue gun dealers,” illegal firearm traffickers and launch firearm trafficking strike forces. The White House plan would help recently incarcerated people reenter society, provide programs for youth, and “invest in evidence-based community violence interventions.”
The plan also encourages local governments to use the $350 billion allotted in the COVID relief bill passed earlier this year to invest in law enforcement, including hiring more officers.
“This strategy will use the Rescue Plan’s historic funding levels and clear guidance to help state, local, territorial, and tribal governments get the money they need to put more police officers on the beat – with the resources, training, and accountability they need to engage in effective community policing – in addition to supporting proven Community Violence Intervention programs, summer employment opportunities, and other investments that we know will reduce crime and make our neighborhoods safer,” the White House said.
A study from the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund showed that in 2020, there were 4,000 more murders than in 2019, a 25% increase.
“The President’s announcement is not a sincere effort to stem the bloodshed we are experiencing in cities across America,” LELDF President Jason Johnson said. “This violence is primarily a result of the movement to defund and disempower law enforcement. Nothing in this proposal helps to correct the errant course we have been on since at least one year ago; rather, it doubles down on the notion that guns alone are the problem and that violence interruption alone is the solution.”
The spike in violence came amid rising anti-police sentiments in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, which led to calls to “defund the police” in cities around the nation.
In some cities, like Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Portland, local governments cut police funding, a move that was followed by a significant spike in violent crime.
“After the city of Portland slashed its police budget by $12 million and eliminated three police units, the police withdrew while shootings climbed 173% and murders rose 255% in nine months,” LELDF said. “Since June 2020, local leaders and activists’ increasing attacks, demoralized, debilitated, and in some cases, defunded law enforcement."
Smith said Biden's efforts fall short and pointed to prosecutors who refuse to prosecute certain crimes as part of the problem.
"These countless preventable tragedies follow from the left’s relentless obsession with defunding and canceling those charged with maintaining law and order and protecting public safety," Smith said. “President Biden has committed to meeting with various organizations to get their input on combating the surge in violent crime, but it’s some of these same organizations that are contributing to it. Some of these groups ... are involved in helping to elect radical, rogue prosecutors around the country who are encouraging crime rather than prosecuting it. When these prosecutors refuse to do their jobs by refusing to prosecute entire categories of crimes, it’s the victims and members of their communities who suffer."