Biden opposes defunding police, rejecting Trump’s claims

Jennifer Epstein

Joe Biden does not support defunding the police, his campaign said Monday, rejecting efforts by President Donald Trump to paint the Democratic presidential nominee as a supporter of the demand of some protesters against police brutality.

“As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded,” spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement. Biden has called for an additional $300 million for community policing as well as funding for body cameras to be worn by police.

The candidate supports “the urgent need for reform” of policing, as well as for additional funding in a range of areas including public schools and mental health and substance abuse treatment.

In this combination of file photos, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Del., on March 12, 2020, left, and President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington on April 5, 2020.

Activists who are calling for defunding police take a range of positions, including shifting money to programs to address economic and social ills that disproportionately affect people of color. The “defund the police” rallying cry evokes the idea of abolishing police, so Republicans have seized on it this week to attack Biden and other Democrats.

“Joe Biden is complicit in this, he does not have the strength to stand up to the extremists because they’re now calling the shots in his party and he would contribute to the chaos,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said on a call with reporters just before the Biden campaign released its statement.

Murtaugh said it was “ludicrous” for Biden to use the proposal for $300 million for community policing “to somehow point to support for one program as being somehow a shield over this nationwide movement that has consumed his party.”

Trump has called for cuts to community policing programs in all his budget proposals, drawing bipartisan opposition.

The Biden campaign faulted Trump for not providing funding to boost community policing or introduce other reforms. “There are many police departments across the country who are seeking to realize these kinds of changes, but haven’t had the resources to – and the Trump administration has in fact made obtaining those resources more difficult,” Bates said.