““The answer is not to defund the police, it’s to give you the tools, the training, the funding to be partners, to be protectors. The community needs you.””
That was President Joe Biden on Thursday during a meeting with New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Biden addressed his administration’s attempts to curb gun violence in New York City while speaking at One Police Plaza, the headquarters of the New York Police Department (NYPD) in lower Manhattan.
“We’re not about defunding, we’re about funding and providing the additional services you need beyond someone with a gun strapped to their shoulder,” Biden continued.
On several occasions during his address, Biden alluded to the idea that there should be more social workers and mental health professionals working in tandem with police.
“We need more people who, when you’re called on these scenes and someone’s about to jump off a roof, there’s not just someone standing there with a weapon. It’s also someone who knows how to talk to people, talk them down,” Biden said.
New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams, a former police captain, has advocated for more police officers patrolling the streets and subway stations to promote public safety. He has also been a critic of his own department at times. Adams has recounted when he was beaten by police as a teenager, and portrayed himself during his mayoral campaign as someone who could bridge the gap between the NYPD and police reform activists pushing for change.
The president visited New York one day after the funeral for one of the two NYPD officers that were shot and killed during a domestic violence call on Jan. 21. Their deaths made national headlines.
“We understand how serious this moment is,” Adams said on Thursday.
“Yesterday, we gathered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in mourning,” he continued. “Today, here at One Police Plaza — where I walked across that stage as a captain — we are here in solidarity to deal with the issue of violence that has become pervasive in not only New York City, but in the cities across America.”
Homicides in some American cities ticked up in 2021, according to a new data from the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ). Homicide rates are 5% higher than 2020 levels and a 44% higher than 2019.
Several members of the GOP have been critical of President Biden on the issue of crime during his time as president.
“Biden and Democrats have failed on crime,” Will O’Grady, a Republican National Committee spokesperson, told Reuters about Biden’s visit to New York. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has also been critical of the Biden administration’s lack of perceived action against crime, blaming his “far-left rhetoric and anti-law-enforcement local policies.”