President Biden is offering $350 billion from the American Rescue Plan to police departments in New York City and elsewhere in an effort to “put more police officers on the beat” as part of his new comprehensive strategy on gun violence, effectively filling budget holes created as the “defund the police” movement reverberated across the country last year.
Multiple police departments have cited difficulties in recruiting new officers, but a senior White House official speaking to Fox News Monday about the Biden administration’s new strategy said that those difficulties could be partly attributed to training academies being closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the wake of demonstrations calling to defund the police following George Floyd’s death, an officer’s job has grown increasingly more dangerous, and the National Fraternal Order of Police found earlier this month that ambush-style attacks on law enforcement was up 91% year to date compared to 2020.
NYC MAYORAL CANDIDATE ADAMS CALLS OUT DC DEMS FOR ‘MISPLACED’ FOCUS ON ASSAULT WEAPONS
The White House official insisted that police chiefs still see interest from applicants in becoming officers, but budget cuts have limited their ability to hire. Biden’s new strategy frees up federal dollars to allow departments to hire officers and fund overtime payments to meet community needs.
Biden addressed reporters at the White House on Monday before leading a roundtable discussion with local law enforcement leaders, elected officials and experts on reducing gun violence in their communities.
“While there is no one size fit all approach, we know there are some things that work,” Biden said. “Our strategy provides funding for law enforcement through the American Rescue Plan for states, cities to be able to hire police and pay them overtime in order to advance community policing.”
As part of his plan, the Department of Justice had already announced in June the launch of gun trafficking strike forces in five areas nationwide — New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and the Bay Area.
Biden’s announcement on providing federal funds to police comes just days after The Washington Post’s fact-checker gave “Three Pinocchios” to White House press secretary Jen Psaki and senior presidential adviser Cedric Richmond last week for falsely suggesting Republicans supported defunding police, which progressives Democrats pushed last year.
New York City’s FY22 budget uses American Rescue Plan funds to add more than $44 million to expand the existing Cure Violence and the Crisis Management system, bolster community violence intervention models to mediate conflicts and connect high-risk individuals to services.
According to the Biden administration, the budget in New York City uses housing and employment as an anti-violence measure. As such, $57 million will go toward providing reentry to housing, with health care and employment counseling for those in the criminal justice system returning to the community.
Meanwhile, $24 million will be used to create the Precision Employment Initiative to hire 1,000 people determined to be the most at-risk in Mott Haven, Brownsville and South Jamaica this summer as a method of preventing violence through employment and support services.
The NYPD has re-deployed an additional 200 officers performing administrative functions to the field full time, assigned to high violence commands.
According to the Biden administration, New York’s in-place comprehensive summer crime strategy, Safe Summer NYC, has doubled New York’s Cure Violence workforce, has increased Summer Youth Anti-Violence employment from 800 to 2,000, and is refurbishing basketball courts and soccer fields.
The plan aims to focus police presence on the 100 blocks with the highest rate of gun violence, strengthen federal partnerships with NYPD to perform rapid tracing of firearms, expand the program connecting community members to resources, and launch a gun buyback advertising campaign.
Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams, among other leaders who participated in a roundtable discussion on gun violence with Biden at the White House Monday, recently criticized Democrats on the federal level for focusing on assault rifles but neglecting illegal handguns.
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Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., GOP candidate for governor in New York – who was not involved in the discussions at the White House – told Fox News that addressing violent crime in the state must involve reducing cashless bail, in addition to supporting police officers.
The senior White House official speaking to Fox News Monday said that Biden’s strategy did not focus on the cashless bail issue, but instead uses resources from the American Rescue Plan to get courts back up and running to full speed to do a better job at processing individuals.