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Biden urges cities to spend Covid relief money on police, crime prevention

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Friday urged states and cities to make use of unspent cash from final 12 months’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief package to fund crime prevention packages and rent law enforcement officials.

The president confused the necessity for extra funding of public security packages at a White House occasion with mayors and legislation enforcement officers.

“To each governor, each mayor, each county official, the necessity is obvious, my message is obvious: Spend this cash now; use these funds we made out there to you; prioritize public security,” Biden stated. “Do it shortly earlier than the summer season, when crime charges usually surge.”

Numerous main cities have reported surges in crime rates because the begin of the coronavirus pandemic. The White Home stated it’s pushing native governments to spend the cash earlier than the summer season months, when there has traditionally been extra violent crime in comparison with winter months.

No less than $10 billion from the American Rescue Plan, which Congress handed in March 2021, has already been dedicated to public security packages, together with home violence prevention efforts, drug abuse and psychological well being companies, and bonuses for hiring and retaining law enforcement officials, the White Home stated.

About $6.5 billion was allotted in 2021 by 300 localities and greater than half of states, together with $2 billion for crime prevention packages to ease the burden on police and $1 billion for bonuses to assist recruit and retain public security employees, the White Home stated.

“We’ve got loads on the market, the factor is that the governors should loosen it up, make it out there,” Biden stated at Friday’s occasion.

With out these funds, many cities would have been pressured to chop again on public security spending due to finances shortfalls after the financial influence of the pandemic and the extra prices it imposed on native governments, the White Home added.

Kansas Metropolis Mayor Quinton Lucas, who spoke at Friday’s White Home press briefing, stated funding from final 12 months’s Covid reduction invoice “has crammed an vital and very important hole.”

“If not for the American Rescue Plan, officers would have misplaced their jobs, salaries would have been frozen and our metropolis would have develop into extra harmful,” the Democratic mayor stated. “As a substitute, we now have been in a position to spend money on various very important and vital areas.”

The rescue plan additionally included $350 billion to assist governors, mayors and different native leaders help their responses to and restoration from the pandemic.

As crime continues to rise in elements of the nation, Republicans have sought to make it a key situation within the midterm elections, accusing Democrats of being in favor of “defunding” police departments.

Biden, who has more and more pushed again in opposition to that narrative, maintains that he’s for funding the police and has accused Republicans of supporting cuts to police budgets, citing their opposition to the American Rescue Plan.

“The American Rescue Plan has enabled these mayors and different state and native leaders to shore up their budgets and spend money on public security,” the White Home stated in a press release. “Sadly, each Republican in Congress voted in opposition to the American Rescue Plan public security funding for cities and rural counties throughout the nation.”

The Biden administration has additionally been trying to tout the Covid reduction invoice as one of many president’s prime coverage achievements, together with the $550 billion infrastructure bundle, because it makes the case to maintain Democrats in energy forward of the elections this fall.