Biden gave his stance in an opinion piece for USA Today. In the article, he pitched his ideas about solving systematic racism in the U.S. and they included things like expanding programs to help Black-owned businesses, assisting Historically Black colleges and universities, and giving state and local governments “the tools to combat gentrification, end discriminatory lending practices, and eliminate exclusionary zoning laws designed to keep low-income people and people of color out of certain communities.”
“While I do not believe federal dollars should go to police departments that are violating people’s rights or turning to violence as the first resort, I do not support defunding police,” he wrote. “The better answer is to give police departments the resources they need to implement meaningful reforms, and to condition other federal dollars on completing those reforms.”
Biden basically advocated giving the cops more money than they already have.
“I’ve long been a firm believer in the power of community policing — getting cops out of their cruisers and building relationships with the people and the communities they are there to serve and protect,” he wrote. “That’s why I’m proposing an additional $300 million to reinvigorate community policing in our country. Every single police department should have the money they need to institute real reforms like adopting a national use of force standard, buying body cameras, and recruiting more diverse police officers.”
An Urban Institute study has shown that police budgets across the country have grown exponentially since the 1970s. “In 1977, state and local governments spent $60 billion on police and corrections. In 2017, they spent $194 billion. A 220 percent increase,” explained the Movement for Black Lives, a group committed to defunding the police. “Despite continued profiling, harassment, terror and killing of Black communities, local and federal decision-makers continue to invest in the police, which leaves Black people vulnerable and our communities no safer.”
Biden’s reform ideas mirror a bill Democratic leaders in Congress proposed this week where they listed initiatives like a national ban on chokeholds by police and lowering the federal threshold for when cops can be charged with using excessive force.
Biden also said in his USA Today article that he believes in “collecting data regarding police use of force and violations of use of force standards, and requiring training for officers regarding racial and religious bias and their duty to intervene if another officer is abusing his or her power.”
Suggestions like these have fallen short in cities like Minneapolis where George Floyd died after an officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes while Floyd yelled “I can’t breathe.”
According to the Urban Institute, Minneapolis was one of six cities that participated in the 2014 National Initiative to Build Community Trust and Justice. “Every MPD officer took 24 hours of procedural justice and implicit bias training, and MPD made multiple policy changes to enhance community trust, including several specific to use of force. As far as we could determine in our implementation assessment, the MPD did so with fidelity and commitment,” explained the Urban Institute’s blog Urban Wire.
However, George Floyd was still killed and residents of the six cities involved in the National Initiative program didn’t necessarily give universal praise for the police. Less than a quarter believed that “the police department holds officers accountable for wrong or inappropriate conduct in the community” and just 28 percent believed the police department is responsive to community concerns.
Many police defunding advocates want money from the cops redirected to other resources such as hospital-based violence interruption partnerships as well as healthcare, mental health resources, youth programs, and more.
With Biden’s statements, yet another divide seems to be forming on the left in a crucial election year.