Biden Urges Cities To Spend Covid Aid Money On Police And Crime Prevention

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Friday urged states and cities to use unspent money from last year’s $1.9 trillion Covid aid package to fund crime prevention programs and hire police officers.

The president stressed the need for increased funding for public safety programs at a White House event with mayors and law enforcement officers.

“For every governor, every mayor, every county official, the need is clear, my message is clear: spend this money now; use these funds that we have made available to you; prioritize public safety,” Biden said. “Do it fast for the summer, when crime rates tend to rise.”

A number of major cities have reported a rise in crime rates since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The White House said it is encouraging local governments to spend the money ahead of the summer months, when there has historically been more violent crime compared to the winter months.

At least $10 billion of the US bailout plan, which Congress approved in March 2021, has already been allocated to public safety programs, including efforts to prevent domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health services, and bonuses for hiring and retaining employees. police officers, the White House said.

About $6.5 billion was allocated in 2021 by 300 places and more than half the states, including $2 billion for crime prevention programs to ease the burden on the police and $1 billion for bonuses to recruit public safety workers and to keep, the White House said.

“We have enough, the point is that the governors have to untie it and make it available,” Biden said at Friday’s event.

Without those funds, many cities would have been forced to cut back on public safety spending because of budget deficits following the economic impact of the pandemic and the additional costs it imposed on local governments, the White House added.

Speaking at Friday’s White House press conference, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said funding from last year’s Covid relief bill “filled an important and vital gap.”

“Without the US bailout, officers would have lost their jobs, salaries would have been frozen and our city would have become more dangerous,” the Democratic mayor said. “Instead, we have been able to invest in a number of vital and important areas.”

The rescue plan also included $350 billion to help governors, mayors and other local leaders support their response to and recovery from the pandemic.

As crime continues to rise in parts of the country, Republicans have tried to make it a major issue in the midterm elections, accusing Democrats of favoring “defunding” police forces.

Biden, increasingly opposed to that narrative, has insisted he is in favor of funding police and has accused Republicans of supporting cuts to police budgets, citing their opposition to the US bailout plan.

“The US bailout has enabled these mayors and other state and local leaders to bolster their budgets and invest in public safety,” the White House said in a statement. “Unfortunately, every Republican in Congress voted against the U.S. public safety bailout for cities and rural counties across the country.”

The Biden administration has also tried to tout the Covid relief bill as one of the president’s key policy achievements, along with the $550 billion infrastructure package, as it advocates keeping Democrats in power ahead of this election. autumn.