Biden Mourns Fallen Officers at Memorial and Praises Police for Reducing Crime - The World News

Biden Mourns Fallen Officers at Memorial and Praises Police for Reducing Crime

President Biden mourned fallen police officers at a memorial service on Wednesday, praising the efforts of law enforcement officials and saying that his administration’s efforts had helped lower crime rates in communities across the United States.

Mr. Biden, speaking directly to police officers and the families of those who have died, used the solemn service as a way to pay his respects but also as a way to subtly address criticism, levied by Republicans, that crime has skyrocketed on his watch.

“It’s no accident that violent crime is near a record 50-year low,” Mr. Biden told the crowd gathered for the annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol. “It’s because of extraordinary effort by all of you and your communities, together with historic steps to support you.”

This year’s ceremony honored some 222 officers who had died, and Mr. Biden, who has tried to shore up support among police rank-and-file through appearances and visits like these, said he understood what law enforcement officials were up against.

“Being a cop is one hell of a lot harder than it’s ever been,” Mr. Biden said. “We expect everything of you.” He added that police officers were expected to be drug counselors, social workers and guardians in communities “flooded with weapons of fear.”

According to data released by the F.B.I. this week, 194 police officers were intentionally killed while on duty between 2021 and 2023, more than any other three-year period in the last 20 years. Agencies reported 79,091 officers had been assaulted in 2023, marking the highest officer assault rate in the past 10 years.

Over the past four years, crime in the United States has spiked, boosted by a surge of violence during the coronavirus pandemic, and then fallen. According to data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this year, violent crime is near a 50-year low, and the number of homicides has plummeted in major cities across the country.

But that data clashes with high-profile reports of violence, particularly in the country’s largest cities. And the perception that things are worse than they are is hard to shake: According to an analysis of Gallup polling on crime, over the years since 1972, at least a quarter of Americans consistently have said that national crime rates are higher in the present year than they were the year before, even if the crime rate has declined over time.

Mr. Biden’s Republican challenger, former President Donald J. Trump, has kept up a steady drumbeat of criticism against Democratic policies on crime. He has sought to portray himself as a champion of law enforcement even as he has railed against federal investigators, judges, lawyers and district attorneys involved in the several cases in which he is a criminal defendant. And his frequent claims of rising crime in large cities are often at odds with the data.

“There’s not been a president that has had as long a track record with the police as Joe Biden, and yet for whatever reason he’s been put on defense, which makes no sense,” said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. “There’s sometimes a disconnect between what the crime numbers say and what people feel, and I think the narrative is at variance with the reality: a drop in violent crime. Yet for some people it is real.”

Throughout Mr. Biden’s time in office, he has pushed back against calls from progressives in the Democratic Party to divest from police departments and spend more on mental health and social services. When protests after the police killing of George Floyd roiled the nation in 2020, Mr. Biden was against calls to reduce funding to police departments.

Instead, he has repeatedly encouraged local governments to draw from $350 billion in pandemic stimulus funds to buy more police vehicles, ballistic equipment and surge hiring of police officers. He has at times tried to appeal to criminal justice advocates by encouraging local leaders to invest the federal funds in community-based anti-violence groups.

As Republicans have sought to attack Mr. Biden as being weak on law and order, Democrats have tried to go on the offensive, citing Mr. Trump’s embrace of Jan. 6, 2021, rioters to accuse Republicans of not supporting the police.

The White House has also frequently spotlighted its support from law enforcement unions, including an endorsement from the Trump-friendly Border Patrol union over bipartisan border legislation endorsed by Mr. Biden, as well as the White House’s collaboration with the Fraternal Order of Police.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *