Biden rejects ‘defund police’ by pumping funds back to NYC, but Eric Adams unclear on need for more officers

Ted Williams: Biden needs to meet with prosecutors about crime surge in cities

Former D.C. homicide detective Ted Williams speaks on increased gun violence and crime across the country.

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. 

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.” 

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser listens as President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting on reducing gun violence, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Monday, July 12, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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. 

Speaking later to reporters outside the White House, Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams praised Biden for his plan to “redefine the ecosystem of public safety,” that involves identifying the roles of police, schools, families, resources and employment in curbing gun violence. 

Adams stopped short in saying whether putting more officers on the streets alone would drive down gun violence – though he did mention support for sending more officers into the subway system. 

“The prerequisite to prosperity is safety and justice,” Adams, a former NYPD captain and current Brooklyn Borough President, said. “If we don’t have them together, it doesn’t matter how many police officers you put on the streets. We can’t continue to respond to symptoms. It’s time to respond to the underlying causes of violence in our city.”  

“Other communities are waking up to alarm clocks, communities of Black, brown, and poor people are waking up to gunshots,” the mayoral candidate continued. “And this president said, this is not the America we’re going to live in, and that’s why I’m here.”

Meanwhile, Republican New York City mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa said Monday he was not invited to the meeting at the White House, despite his experience on gun violence as the founder of the Guardian Angels and being a victim personally of violent crime. Sliwa said he would have told Biden and law enforcement leaders that problems began in New York City when officials voted to slash the police budget amid the defund the police movement and when the “no bail” law was enacted, after which some suspected criminals are cut loose only to re-offend days or even hours later. 

As of Sunday, New York City experienced 225 reported homicides, 10 more than in the same time frame last year, according to police figures. Shootings are also up, with 803 this year versus 623 last year as of July 11, the New York Police Department said. 

The decision to disband the NYPD’s plainclothes unit in June 2020 amid calls to defund police has been blamed in part for the rising crime. 

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.

Brooklyn Borough President and New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams listens as President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting on reducing gun violence, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Monday, July 12, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., GOP candidate for governor in New York – who was not involved in the discussions at the White House – also 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. 

Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report. 

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