Biden continues to tout ‘fund the police’ amid community safety concerns in Black neighborhoods
President Joe Biden on Monday delivered a message to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) at its 45th annual training conference about funding police departments across the nation.
Biden was scheduled to make an in-person appearance at the conference this week, however, due to his recent COVID-19 diagnosis the president pre-taped his message to the Black policing organization.
“Being a cop is a hell of a lot harder than it’s ever been,” President Biden said in his virtual message. “When it comes to public safety, the answer isn’t to defund the police, the answer is to fund the police.”
For months, Biden has publicly opposed the slogan “Defund the Police” and has vowed to fund law enforcement agencies as part of his administration’s Safer American Plan in an effort to keep American streets safe.
The president’s initiative contrasts calls from various groups, politicians and celebrities who have demanded police departments be stripped of their financial backing due to widespread corruption and police brutality. Some would rather see those resources be reallocated to assist the community through social programs addressing things like mental health, addiction, and other community interventions.
In an interview with theGrio, lawyer and activist April Reign cited the Uvalde Police Department as a prime example of why police departments should be defunded. As reports indicated, nearly 400 officers responded to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, yet they waited more than an hour to act while the gunman killed 19 children and two adults.
“I am for defunding the police, not necessarily abolishing the police,” said Reign, who noted that New York City funds billions of dollars for its police department, and “yet we see time and time again they are rampant with fraud and state-sanctioned violence against mostly Black and brown people.”
She added, “What they don’t have, on the other hand, is mental health services for those same communities. What they don’t have is housing initiatives that are really helping those with less resources in those same communities.”
Former Indianapolis Police Chief Rick Hite told theGrio that he found it important that President Biden delivered a message of unifying policing and community. “We have to recognize that defunding the police has different connotations in different communities around the country,” said Hite. “But, I think what’s germane is reallocating resources to the communities to help police and community combat crime.”
U.S. Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana, who is a former police officer, told theGrio that it was “gratifying” to see President Biden address NOBLE. Carson, who was with Vice President Kamala Harris in Indiana where she met with state lawmakers, said he is eager “to see implementation of the President’s Safer America Plan, which will invest in crime prevention and a fairer criminal justice system.”
Carson believes policing and resources are important factors in supporting communities today.
The congressman noted that President Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which provides “additional resources” to “help stem the flow of illegal weapons and provide additional mental health services to those who need them – before more lives are taken by gun violence.”
However, Carson added that more needs to be done to “make our communities safer.”
“CDC data shows gun violence is the number one killer of American children, more than car accidents or cancer,” he said.
Congressman Carson urged the U.S. Senate to take up “bolder bills” that have been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, like raising the purchasing age for semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21, outlawing high-capacity magazines for civilian use and closing the bump stock loophole.
At this time, President Biden will continue to focus on the economy and work from the White House residence. After the president isolates for five days and receives a negative COVID test, he will then return to work in the West Wing.
According to White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Ashish Jha, the White House has identified and notified 17 people who had close contact with the president.
The White House is slated to hold a conference on Tuesday to discuss COVID-19 vaccines.
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