(NewsNation) — Mayors, police chiefs and other local officials are meeting with President Joe Biden Friday to collaborate on how to spend money from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on policing and public safety programs, before the predicated summer crime spike.
In turn, during an afternoon event in the Rose Garden, Biden will highlight some of these efforts and urge cities to spend even more of their coronavirus relief money on public safety, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the president’s plans on the condition of anonymity under terms insisted upon by the White House.
Biden will encourage communities to spend more on public safety and crime prevention before the summer months, which typically bring a spike in violent crime.
“This is not a toy. It’s shipped as if someone is assembling a toy,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said this week. So far this year in New York City, 153 ghost guns have been seized. That’s a 350 percent increase in ghost gun seizures compared to the same time period last year.
This comes amid a sharp spike in gun violence. Gun violence has risen sharply in the last few years —according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearm homicides are at the highest level they’ve been in 26 years.
“What’s the point of having a gun that you can’t trace unless you’re up to nefarious activity?” former Chicago Superintendent Eddie Johnson said on “Morning in America.” “Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s a small percentage of people like gun collectors that might want them, but for the most part, they’re an issue.”
FBI records released last September suggest that Biden inherited a violent crime problem. In 2020, the year before Biden took office, homicides rose nearly 30% over the previous year, the largest one-year jump documented by the FBI. There were 21,570 killings, the highest since the early 1990s when homicides stayed above 23,000 a year.
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 attend, as will officials from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Mercer County, Pennsylvania.
Some officials will discuss how they used the federal funding — which Republicans in Congress did not support — to do such things as hire new police officers, buy body cameras and new police and fire vehicles, pay overtime and improve mental health and domestic violence response, according to a fact sheet the White House released Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.