Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday pushed back against remarks from President Donald Trump that he supports the nationwide “defund the police” movement, by saying that he wants to “get police more money.”
Former Vice President Biden, 77, made the comments during a virtual fundraiser hosted by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
“I don’t want to defund police,” Biden said, addressing growing calls from activists and some Democrats to abolish or defund the police.
The movement has intensified nationwide in recent weeks in the wake of protests against police brutality and riots following the in-custody death of black man George Floyd in Minneapolis. Black Lives Matter activists have chanted the slogan or spray-painted it on buildings and monuments in cities across the country.
Biden’s campaign and other top Democrats in Congress have previously said police departments shouldn’t be defunded. In June, a campaign spokesperson for Biden stated that he “does not believe that police should be defunded,” but instead called for “reform.”
Biden, however, said during a Now This interview last month that he “absolutely” believes that some funding should be redirected from police departments.
“I want to get police more money in order to deal with the things they badly need, from making sure they have access to community policing, that they have also in the departments social workers, psychologists, people who in fact can handle those god-awful problems that a cop has to have four degrees to handle,” Biden said Wednesday.
The president has, in a number of tweets and interviews, said that Biden is in favor of defunding the police.
Corrupt Joe Biden wants to defund our police. He may use different words, but when you look at his pact with Crazy Bernie, and other things, that’s what he wants to do. It would destroy America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2020
“Corrupt Joe Biden wants to defund our police,” Trump said on Twitter last month. “He may use different words, but when you look at his pact with Crazy Bernie, and other things, that’s what he wants to do. It would destroy America!”
Biden said Wednesday that if he were to win November’s presidential election, he would enact police reforms during his first 100 days in office. He said he would put together a national police oversight commission which could oversee and consider the reforms.
“Reform means, at least the beginning, banning chokeholds, stopping transferring military weapons of war to the police departments, creating a model use of force standard and holding all police to the high standard,” Biden said.
Biden has also said he supports funding for “community policing programs,” “diversifying police departments,” and body cameras.
A spokesman for Biden meanwhile released a statement Monday saying that he does not support the “defund the police” movement.
“He hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain,” spokesman Andrew Bates said.
Instead, the spokesman said, Biden favors “the urgent need for reform,” including the funding of mental health and substance abuse treatment, summer programs, and public schools to ensure that police officers can “focus on the job of policing.”
“This also means funding community policing programs that improve relationships between officers and residents, and provides the training that is needed to avert tragic, unjustifiable deaths,” Bates said.
Trump has made it a focus of his reelection strategy to portray himself as the “law and order” candidate. He has accused the Democrats of embracing chaos and anarchy during the protests.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.