President Joe Biden is meeting with mayors, police chiefs and local public officials on Friday to discuss how cities are using funds from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package for policing and emergency programs. public security.
In the afternoon, Biden plans to deliver remarks to call on state and local governments to direct more of their coronavirus relief spending to public safety.
The 2021 relief package included $350 billion for state, local and tribal governments, money that could go to police departments. Following the deaths of several black Americans by law enforcement officials, some Democrats and civil rights activists have urged cuts to police budgets. Republican lawmakers have slammed Biden amid rising violent crime, even though the president has said he thinks the police need the money.
“The answer is not to defund the police,” Biden said in his State of the Union address in March. “It’s to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them.
Among the officials meeting with Biden are the mayors and police chiefs of Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Missouri and Tampa, Florida. The mayors of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Toledo, Ohio, will also be present, along with officials from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Mercer County, Pennsylvania.
“One of the reasons the president wants to speak now is both because we’re approaching another summer and he wants to emphasize the priority of using these dollars for public safety and violence prevention.” , a senior administration official said in a call with reporters.
FBI files released last September suggest Biden inherited a violent crime problem. In 2020, the year before Biden took office, homicides rose nearly 30% from the previous year, the biggest one-year jump documented by the FBI. There were 21,570 murders, the highest since the early 1990s, when homicides remained above 23,000 a year.