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Biden touts efforts to reduce crime, pushing back on GOP claims: 'Our plan is working'

President Biden on Wednesday welcomed local police chiefs and law enforcement officials to the White House to discuss his administration’s efforts to fight crime, looking to rebut the narrative pushed by former President Trump and other Republicans that violent crime is rampant.

“As president, public safety and crime reduction is a top priority for my administration and for me, and it has been for a long time back when I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee,” Biden said in remarks to police leaders.

The president joined a roundtable with various law enforcement officials, which included the heads of police from the cities of Philadelphia, Buffalo, Miami, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit and DeKalb County, Ga., as well as the executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police.

The White House noted the country saw its largest annual increase in murders ever recorded in 2020, while there has been a decrease in homicides during the Biden administration.

Officials pointed to millions of dollars investments in local police departments through the American Rescue Plan, a massive spending bill signed into law in 2021 that passed with only Democratic votes. The money has been spent on recruiting more officers and bolstering local budgets that were strained during the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden in 2022 signed an executive order intended to increase police accountability that established a national database of officers who have been fired for misconduct and requires federal agencies to update their policies on use of force.

However, the president has rejected calls to “defund the police” from some far-left members of his own party that followed the killing of George Floyd in 2020, with his Justice Department partnering with local law enforcement to crack down on gun violence in particular.

“Our plan is working, but we still have much more to do as everyone at this table knows,” Biden said. “And that’s why we’re here today. My administration is going to choose progress over policy, and communities across the country are safer as a result of that.”

Former President Trump, the likely Republican nominee in November’s election, has for years cast Democrat-run cities as havens for crime and lawlessness.

In a speech last Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump zeroed in on what he described as “migrant crime” that was overtaking New York City and other areas of the country.

“We have a new category, migrant crime. And it’s going to be more severe than violent crime and crime as we knew it,” Trump said.

The former president said he would ensure police officers have immunity so they can act as they feel necessary to crack down on criminals, and he suggested without evidence that his reelection would quickly address issues in Chicago and New York.

“Chicago could be solved in one day,” Trump said. “New York could be solved in a half a day there.”

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement Wednesday that crime was “ravaging our cities” because of Biden.

“For years, Democrats have refused to condemn destruction in our cities and called to defund the police,” McDaniel said. “Now, in communities across America, homicide rates are higher, retail theft is crushing small businesses, and police departments can’t find officers. It’s no wonder why people feel less safe than when Biden took office: he will always prioritize criminals over families, and he’s not up for the job.”

But data has shown Republicans’ portrait of a country overrun with crime in major cities is misleading.

FBI data released last October found violent crime in 2022 dropped by 1.7 percent compared with 2021. That category includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. The drop brought violent crime back to pre-pandemic levels, though not as low as it was between 2013 and 2015.

A report released Wednesday by the center-left think tank Third Way showed the murder rate was 33 percent higher in states carried by Trump in 2020 compared with states Biden won, marking the 23rd year in a row that Trump-voting states had higher murder rates than Biden-voting states.

The report was based on homicide information from 2021 and 2022 for all 50 states from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mortality data.

Source: The Hill

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