White House: Officials Should Use Coronavirus Funds to Fight Crime

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Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty

A White House memo released Monday directs state and local governments to use coronavirus funds to fight crime and applauds those already doing so.

The memo, first reported by Axios, was authored by Susan Rice, the Domestic Policy Council director; Gene Sperling, who is supposed to oversee the spending from the $1.9 trillion relief package; and Julie Rodriguez, White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs director.

The memo was released hours before a President Joe Biden event designed to show his administration’s awareness of the crime rate spikes, as Breitbart News reported.

The memo titled, How Local and State Government Can – and Should – Use the President’s Gun Crime Reduction Strategy and Historic Rescue Plan Funding to Improve Public Safety, clarifies their plans.

“The core of the President’s plan is a partnership with cities and states, equipping local leaders with historic levels of federal funding and a range of tools to address the multifaceted challenge of gun violence,” the missive states.

The administration’s strategy will use the $350 billion from the American Rescue Plan for “financial support and clear guidance to provide state, local, territorial, and tribal governments the money they need to put more police officers on the beat.”

Officials are also able to use the money for “hiring above pre-pandemic levels in communities experiencing an increase in gun violence associated with the pandemic” and use the funds for “other resources, training, and accountability they need to engage in effective community policing.”

Additionally, the memo states the funds are authorized to be used and should be allocated to “support evidence-based community violence intervention programs, summer employment and educational opportunities, and other investments that we know will reduce crime and make our neighborhoods safer.”

Some Democrats have recently shown urgency to curtail the rise in crime. Republican groups have consistently attacked Democrats on defunding the police, the rise in crime, and even blaming the rise in law enforcement retirements on low morale.

A recent report showed attacks on police had risen 91 percent in 2020, within the ambush-style attacks on the men and women in law enforcement. In addition, another report showed some cities had had a crime surge in 2021 as high at 533 percent for homicides and 126 percent for shootings.

There was also a study done by the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington policy institute, which found from April 2020 to 2021, “retirements were up 45 percent and resignations rose by 18 percent in the year.” The numbers were compared to the previous 12 months.

In recent weeks the White House has tried to distance itself from the Defund the Police movement and has even gone so far as to blame Republicans for the effort. 

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