Biden: Republicans who say Democrats want to defund the police are lying

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
US President Joe Biden participates in a CNN Town Hall hosted by Don Lemon at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 21, 2021.

President Biden on Wednesday said Republicans are lying if they try to paint him and the Democratic Party as anti-police.

“They’re lying,” he said during a CNN town hall. “We have to change police conduct, we have to have rules where things are open, we have to have rules where you can be able to determine … how many times a cop has violated the rules, and be able to have access to what’s going on at a police department so the Justice Department can get involved in whether or not they have to change the pattern or practice.”

He told CNN’s Don Lemon, who hosted the town hall, that he “never, never” said the police should be defunded. Biden has previously emphasized his commitment to investing in police to combat crime and distanced himself from calls by some progressives to defund the police.

“I don’t know any communities, particularly the communities that are in most need and the poorest and the most at risk that don’t want police. They want police, though, that look at them as equals,” the president said. “They don’t want police abusing them.”

He said later on that he believes police officers do not think he doesn’t support them.

“They aren’t saying ‘Joe Biden is anti-police,’ cops are not saying that about Joe Biden. They know me, period,” he said. “They’re not saying it.

“If police aren’t doing their job, they should be held accountable, they should be fired if they’re not doing their job,” he added. “I make no excuses for that.”

The president also reiterated his call for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, mentioning that it would ban chokeholds. Top negotiators on policing reform on Capitol Hill — Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) — have been working on a bipartisan version of the House-passed legislation that can pass the Senate. 

Biden, in response to a question Wednesday about his efforts to address gun violence, said they have to deal with the larger issue of law enforcement. 

“As we need to pass the Floyd act. … Cops are having real trouble, they’re not all bad guys, there are a lot of good guys. We need more policemen, not fewer policemen, but we need them involved in community policing, community policing, and when we did that, violent crime went down,” he said.

Biden has touted the American Rescue Plan, his signature economic relief bill, as a way to bring in more money for police officers and community violence interrupters. Last month, he painted himself as a supporter of law enforcement in a speech about combating crime, arguing that bolstering police will help address the uptick in crime during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tags Cory Booker defund the police Don Lemon George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Joe Biden Karen Bass Police police brutality Tim Scott
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