President Biden issued a video statement Monday honoring National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day, affirming that the “answer is not to defund” law enforcement.
In doing so, the Democratic president turned against the 2020 rallying cry of some members of his own party. He then went on in the 2-minute-52-second message to tout what he deemed his administration’s gun control successes.
“Let’s be very clear. The answer is not to defund the police,” Biden said. “It is to provide you with the resources and training to be the partners and protectors of the communities that are in need.”
Biden applauded himself for signing the American Rescue Plan during the pandemic, providing $350 billion for states and cities that could be used to retain and hire more officers, pay overtime and bonuses, expand benefits for disabled first responders and “keep communities safe.” The president said that so far, hundreds of communities have used more than $10 billion of those funds.
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From there, Biden jumped to discussing gun control, putting it in the context of increasing safety for police officers.
“I signed the most sweeping gun safety law in nearly 30 years to make sure officers are not outgunned on the streets,” Biden said. “We’re also strengthening background checks for gun purchases, cracking down on illegal gun sales, and reigning in so-called ghost guns that officers have told me are increasingly found at crime scenes.
Biden added that he now “seeks another $37 billion to hire 100,000 more police officers trained in community policing to provide law enforcement with mental health and wellness resources, and to ensure that they have more school counselors, psychologists, social workers responding to a crisis alongside them as they show up.” He also supported investing “in programs that are proven to tackle the root causes of crime.”
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After Senate Republicans blocked passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act last year, Biden signed an executive order claiming to “advance effective, accountable policing and strengthen public safety.” Instead, critics argued it aimed to defund the police by a different name being that the order gave the executive branch authority to deprive local law enforcement agencies of federal grant money if they did not comply with certain Democratic policies, such as restricting the execution of no-knock warrants.
In March, Biden announced another executive order he said would increase the number of background checks conducted before firearm sales, moving the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation. The order, according to the White House, would “keep more guns out of dangerous hands by increasing the effective use of ‘red flag”’ laws, strengthen efforts to hold the gun industry accountable, and accelerate law enforcement efforts to identify and apprehend the shooters menacing our communities.”
“We thank our law enforcement community and recognize the heroism, selflessness and absolute courage of officers all across America,” Biden said in his message Monday. “Every day you pin on that shield and walk out the door running toward danger to keep the rest of us safe. Being an officer, it’s not just what you do. It’s who you are. You serve, protect, defend and represent the best in all of us.”
In the video, Biden also addressed the families of the fallen.
“Hearing the names brings back everything like the moment your got the news. But I hope you draw comfort and strength from the knowledge that their sacrifice will never be forgotten and that you’re extended law enforcement family will always be there for you,” he said. “I promise, one day will come when the memory of your loved one brings a smile on your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes. That’s when you know you’re going to make it. My prayer for you is that day comes sooner rather than later. But I promise you, through your pain, you’ll find purpose worthy of how they lived, and that day will come. As a country, we can find purpose as well. We must find it. The nation owes our officers a debt of gratitude.”
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