As a candidate, President Joe Biden is cautious walk on the narrow road between supporting a newly formed abolitionist movement within the Democratic Party and working with the police unions with which he worked for decades.
But as homicide rates rise in major cities around the country and as legislative efforts to curb gun violence stall – and as the nation’s most trusted Democratic city elects a former black cop as mayor – Biden seems to have come down firmly toward working with law enforcement, rather than against it.
Speaking from New York Police Department headquarters on Thursday, Biden signaled the beginning of a new partnership between his administration and local law enforcement across the country, announcing an initiative Department of Justice’s new initiative to crack down on gun crime and push for hundreds of millions of dollars in increased funding for police departments.
“Six NYPD officers have been victims of gun violence this year alone,” Biden said, standing next to Mayor Eric Adams, a former NYPD officer and the city’s second Black mayor in history. . “Enough is enough – enough is enough, because we know we can do things about this.”
“The answer is not to bring down the police,” Biden said, referring to a slogan that has roiled both the left wing of his own party and its Republican opponents, albeit for very different reasons. together. “It’s to give you the tools, the training, the funding, to be the partner, to be the guardian.”
Biden’s appearance coincides with the release the latest plan of the Ministry of Justice to fight violent crime in big cities. Plans — include stemming the flow of illegal weapons from low-restricted states into major cities, launching an initiative to train prosecutors in prosecuting criminals using “ghost guns” to commit crime and to prioritize prosecution of illegal gun sales — in response increase in violent crime has come with the coronavirus pandemic and has not eased yet.
It’s been a notable shift in the political calculus since the summer of 2020, when the country was roiled by the largest protest movement in half a century after the murder of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death and protests over similar incidents in cities across the United States have sparked fervent calls from the left for drastic law enforcement reform and the launch of movement “undermining the police” to address the social roots of crime.
But in Adams, who has called himself the “Biden of Brooklyn,” the president has found a partner. Like Biden, the mayor emerged from a crowded precinct of Democratic opponents – many of whom called for radical change in the way the nation’s largest city handles policy – with a message pressing strength among working-class voters of color and the importance of public safety in those communities.
“Mr President, Eric Adams is on duty and ready to serve,” Adams said at Thursday’s event in which he called the growing problem of gun violence “pervasive” in cities. of America.
“Mayor Adams, you and I agree: The answer is not to give up our streets,” Biden said. “The answer is, police and communities come together, building trust and making us all safer.”
Coming the day after the funeral of a New York police officer who was fatally shot after answering a 911 call, Biden’s repeated pledge not to sabotage police departments is a salute to him. longtime allies in the law enforcement community who have kept an eye on the president. committed to promoting police reform in the past extremely skeptical.
Paul DiGiacomo, president of the Detectives’ Property Association, the second-largest labor union representing New York City Police Department officers, said: many politicians. “It’s better to educate those who are trying to reform when they don’t know what we do.”
But Stanley Fritz, political and campaign director for Citizens of Action New York, told The Daily Beast he was disappointed to see Biden join Adams on Thursday. Fritz said he fears the return of stop-and-frisk in New York and fears the revived casual wear unit will “harass black and brown people,” among other concerns.
“The police never fixed it. Stage = Stage. Totally stop… If we’re really having a conversation about how to stop crime, why isn’t anyone looking at the police and the fact that they’ve consistently failed to do so? ‘ said Fritz.
The White House has rejected assertions that Biden’s appearance has implications for his policy approach, or that there is any political element to the push for gun violence, which comes amid The scene of increasing attacks from Republicans accusing the president of not supporting law enforcement.
“We reject the notion that we are moving in any political direction. The President has a decades-long track record of… being an advocate against crime and supporting local police programs with the necessary and appropriate resources and funding,” said White House Press Secretary Jen. Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One ahead of the president’s remarks. “Pursuing police reform is a step that will help rebuild trust in communities and is something that is welcomed by many communities and police forces across the country, and he believes that goes hand in hand with safety.” public. Having an effective, responsible community policy helps us fight crime, and it also makes us safer. ”
But the Justice Department’s new initiatives come as many of Biden’s other priorities on gun violence and police reform have been delayed by Congress without much change in decision-making. your.
Biden’s Administration announced last April that its primary focus in addressing police violence against minority communities will be advocating the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policy Act, which would prohibit injunctions and injunctions in drug cases, requiring the use of de-escalation techniques prior to the use of deadly force, and removing qualified immunity to law enforcement. But despite Psaki’s promises at the time that Biden would “use the power of his presidency to move forward,” the bill went nowhere.
But it’s a step ahead of another public safety issue that Biden has championed. Biden pledged throughout his campaign to introduce legislation on his first day in office that would end civil liability waivers for gun manufacturers. Three hundred and seventy-eight days later, the bill has still not been introduced – although Biden has repeatedly called for it, even in his remarks on Thursday.
Biden’s meeting with Adams also followed news of the mayor’s new “blueprint” for policing in New York, including the restoration of a controversial New York Police Department plainclothes unit. , among other suggestions.
Sochie Nnaemeka, New York Labor Family Party director, said in a statement that she appreciated Biden’s visit to the city to discuss public safety, but said it was “the thing that has had the greatest impact that the President has. What President Biden can do to increase safety in New York and across the country is not to pour more federal money into a bloated police budget, but to pass the Build Back Better agenda, and provides significant investments in housing, employment, health care and violence intervention programs. “