Amid widespread demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice, many protesters — and some politicians — have responded with calls to defund or dismantle entire police departments.
While former Vice President Joe Biden has expressed an interest in hearing from those advocating law-enforcement reform, his campaign made it clear this week that he is not ready to sign on to the more extreme proposals.
“Made clear months ago”
“As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded,” said campaign spokesman Andrew Bates on Monday.
The statement went on to assert that the Democratic presidential nominee “hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain.”
Instead of embracing the rhetoric of those calling for defunding agencies, however, Bates pointed to Biden’s support for reform measures “including funding for public schools, summer programs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment separate from funding for policing — so that officers can focus on the job of policing.”
The campaign spokesman claimed that “the Trump administration has in fact made obtaining those resources more difficult,” promising that Biden would be better equipped to bring about necessary changes.
“This is at the core of Joe Biden’s plan to bring transformative change to our criminal justice system,” Bates said.
“Endorsing defunding the police”
Nevertheless, some critics — including Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh — believe Biden should directly state his position instead of relying on a statement.
“As the protesters like to say, silence is agreement,” he said. “By his silence, Joe Biden is endorsing defunding the police.”
The city council in Minneapolis, Minnesota, voted to disband its police force. In a recent interview, the council’s president offered her reaction to those concerned about what to do if an intruder enters their home and the police agency has been disbanded.
“I mean, I hear that loud and clear from a lot of my neighbors,” Lisa Bender said. “And I know — and myself, too, and I know that that comes from a place of privilege. Because for those of us for whom the system is working, I think we need to step back and imagine what it would feel like to already live in that reality where calling the police may mean more harm is done.”
While Biden has sought to distance himself from the far-left activists hoping to shutter police agencies across the U.S., it might not be enough for some voters who will gravitate toward Trump’s unambiguous tough-on-crime stance.