Biden urges local leaders to boost public safety spending

U.S.

(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden is urging cities and states to use federal money to fight crime this summer by investing in more police officer and mental health programs.

The American Rescue Plan includes a total of $1.9 trillion, with $350 billion dedicated to helping state and local governments recover from the pandemic.

The White House wants to see $10 billion spent on actions such as hiring more police.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — to every mayor, every governor, every county official — the need is clear.”

The announcement follows a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that noted gun murders in the U.S. hit a 25-year high in 2020.

A recent Gallup poll found Americans’ fears about crime are at their highest level since 2016.

According to the poll, 53%  worry “a great deal” and 27%  worry “a fair amount.”

Polls also show that rising crime is a major potential stumbling block for Democrats in the midterms.

Some cities have used the federal funding — which Republicans in Congress did not support — to hire more police officers, buy body cameras and new police and fire vehicles, pay overtime and improve mental health and domestic violence responses, the White House said.

The 2021 relief package included $350 billion for state, local and tribal governments, money that could go to police departments. Following the killings of several Black Americans by law enforcement officials, some Democrats and civil rights activists have urged cutting police budgets. The idea has been a frequent target for Republicans even though the president has said he believes the police need the money.

As he did on Friday, Biden said in his State of the Union address in March, “The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them.”

FBI records released last September suggest that Biden inherited a violent crime problem. In 2020, the year before he 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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