President Joe Biden is calling for more funding from Congress and announcing plans to crack down on shootings as a means of addressing increased nationwide crime in recent years.
The rate of violent crime in the U.S. reached a ten-year high in 2020, according to data from the FBI. This included a year-over-year jump in homicides from 6,977 in 2019 to 9,630 in 2020.
And several major cities reported dramatic increases in crime last year. Some estimate last year’s nationwide murder rate to be near a 25-year high. The murder rate was estimated to be 6.9 murders per 100,000 people in 2021.
Biden’s plan includes a commitment from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to crack down on illegal guns transported up the I-95 corridor to cities like Baltimore and New York. The DOJ will also launch a national ghost gun enforcement initiative, prioritize combating violent crime on the state and local level and pursue unlawful gun sellers, according to a White House Fact Sheet.
Biden also wants Congress to approve a $300 million increase to community policing through the COPS Hiring Program and $200 million for community violence interventions.
The president heads to New York Thursday to outline the plan alongside Attorney General Merrick Garland, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, and members of the New York City Police Department.
Two NYPD officers were shot a killed recently in Harlem. Two campus officers were killed in Virginia Tuesday. Six officers have been shot and killed across the country so far this year, according to the Officers Down Memorial Page.
The White House has defended itself from critics who say the Biden administration is soft on crime by pointing to COPS hiring program funding in the American Rescue Plan and increased funding for COPS programs in the president’s budget.
“Gun violence is a huge reason for the surge in crime,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki at a press briefing last week. “Underfunding of some police departments and their need for additional resources, something the president has advocated for consistently through the course of his career, that’s something we know we need to take action on, and it is absolutely true that he will not be satisfied or complacent when officers are being gunned down or when Americans have to worry whether they can safely ride the subway or bus, that should not be a political issue.”
Last summer, the DOJ launched new strike forces focused on addressing firearms trafficking in five major cities and touts taking custody of almost 3,100 crime guns since. In December it announced a violent crime finding initiative, steering $1.6 billion toward addressing a “range of public safety challenges.”