President Joe Biden’s signature law has helped billions of cities and states hire police officers, and the White House really, really wants you to know about it.
“The answer is not to defame the police, the answer is to fund the police with resources and training to protect our communities,” Biden said at the start of the Rose Garden event on Friday afternoon.
White House officials say at least $10 billion has gone toward public safety from the US rescue plan, including hiring police officers, cash to clear court backlogs, upgraded body cameras and police cars and includes funding for mental health and community violence intervention programs.
And Biden wants states and cities to double. “To every governor, every mayor, every county official: the need is clear,” Biden said. “My message is clear. Spend this money now. These funds we have made available to prioritize public safety.”
Biden delivered his message with police officers and local leaders. Following a conference call with reporters Thursday night and the appearance of Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quentin Lucas and Detroit Police Chief James White at Friday’s press briefing, the administration informed the public about the money for the third time.
In Kansas City, Lucas hired 150 additional police officers with federal dollars. In Detroit, he used the cash to deploy gunshot detection technology, body cameras and additional police patrols.
The intensity with which Biden’s White House conveyed the message highlights how central guilt concerns remain for American voters, and how Democrats — up to and including Biden — still believe they should be “police GOP attacks about defaming” need to be fought.
A Pew Research Center report earlier this week found that Americans rate “violent crime” and “gun violence” as the third and fourth most serious issues facing the nation, behind only inflation and health care affordability. 88% of American adults said that violent crime is a very major or moderately major problem in the country, while 76% said the same about gun violence.
The Centers for Disease Control this week said gun homicide levels reached their highest point in 25 years in 2020.
Biden’s call for an increase in public security funding came as the Treasury Department prepared to release a second batch of money from the US rescue plan to states and cities across the country.
Democrats have made clear they hope to use the GOP’s unified opposition to a $2.1 trillion US rescue plan to overturn the script and attack Republicans for voting against police funding.