President Joe Biden’s signature legislation has spent billions to help cities and states hire police officers, and the White House would really, really like you to know about it.
“The answer is not to defund the police, the answer is to defund the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities,” Biden said at the start of a Rose Garden event on Friday afternoon. .
White House officials say at least $10 billion of the US bailout has been spent on public safety, which includes hiring police officers, money to clear up court backlogs, body cameras and improved police cars and funding for mental health and community violence intervention programs.
And Biden wants states and cities to double down. “To every governor, every mayor, every county official: the need is clear,” Biden said. “My message is clear. Spend that money now. Use these funds we have made available to prioritize public safety.
Biden delivered his message as he was flanked by police officers and local leaders. It was the third time the administration has told the public about the money, following a conference call with reporters Thursday night and an appearance by Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quentin Lucas and Detroit Police Chief James White at Friday’s press conference.
In Kansas City, Lucas hired 150 more police officers with federal dollars. In Detroit, they used the money to deploy gunshot detection technology, body cameras and additional police patrols.
The intensity with which Biden’s White House delivered the message shows how central crime concerns remain for American voters and how Democrats – up to and including Biden – still believe they must fight off the attacks. of the GOP regarding “defunding the police”.
A Pew Research Center report earlier this week found that Americans rated “violent crime” and “gun violence” as the third and fourth most serious issues facing the country, after only inflation and the affordability of health care. A whopping 88% of American adults said violent crime was a very important or moderately important problem in the country, while 76% said the same about gun violence.
The Centers for Disease Control said this week that levels of firearm homicides hit a 25-year high in 2020.
Biden’s call for increased funding for public safety came as the Treasury Department prepared to release a second batch of US bailout funds to states and cities across the country.
Democrats have made clear they hope to use the GOP’s unified opposition to the $2.1 trillion U.S. bailout to turn the tide and attack Republicans for voting against defunding the police.