Biden says, ‘This is no time to defund the police.’

The president announced that state and local governments can use their coronavirus relief funds to hire police officers, pay police overtime and support community-based anti-violence groups.



June 29, 2021 - 9:51 AM

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C, on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo by (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

After years of declining crime rates, the United States is suddenly contending with an upsurge in shootings and murders — and the numbers are sobering.

In Chicago, homicides soared 56% last year, and they’re up again this year. In New York, last year’s increase was almost 45%; in Los Angeles, it was 36%. If the current pace holds up,  2021 could produce the highest murder rate in a quarter-century.

Experts haven’t settled on an explanation for the wave of violence, but many say it’s clear the COVID-19 pandemic was a factor: too many young men with no jobs, time on their hands and plenty of reasons to be angry.

Republicans are already turning the crime surge into a campaign message: It is the fault of Joe Biden and the soft-on-crime Democrats.

“Here’s the Democrat plan for America: crime,” Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, chairman of the GOP’s Senate campaign, says in a commercial over dramatic images of rioters smashing plate-glass windows. “The Democrats have embraced the idea of defunding the police, which is the dumbest idea ever.”

The claim that Democrats’ criminal justice policies lead to more crime has been a favorite Republican campaign theme for generations.

But this time, at least, the facts don’t support their charges.

For one thing, the upsurge in violent crime began under a Republican president, Donald Trump. And it came before the murder of George Floyd touched off a campaign by progressives to “defund the police.”

That defunding campaign, by the way, never really took hold.

Biden and other leading Democrats quickly repudiated the slogan, which sounded like a call to abolish police departments entirely. Polls showed that most voters, including most Democrats and Black voters, opposed that idea.

Some big-city mayors rashly announced plans to cut their police budgets, but many, including Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, reversed course after they realized the idea had little public support.

Last week, New York’s primary election for mayor made it clearer than ever that “defund the police” is thoroughly dead. The leading candidate in the Democratic primary, Eric Adams, is a former police officer whose campaign focused on reducing crime in Black and Latino neighborhoods.

This is no time to turn our backs on law enforcement or our communities.President Joe Biden

“We want to have justice and safety,” Adams said. Equally telling, one of his progressive rivals, Maya Wiley, claimed belatedly that she had never supported defunding the police, even though she had proposed cutting the NYPD budget by $1 billion.

That doesn’t mean Republicans will stop campaigning on law and order and accusing Democrats of being anti-police. And the tactics could work. Experts expect crime to spike this summer, if only because that happens almost every year. And when bad news occurs, voters tend to blame the president who’s in office, whether he deserves it or not.