By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE SENIOR REPORTER
(The Center Square) — President Joe Biden blasted the defund police movement during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, but others in his party are not going along with his messaging.
“We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police,” President Biden said in his address. “The answer is to fund the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.”
Almost immediately, Mr. Biden was met with pushback from his own party. Some Democratic lawmakers and a contingent of activists have continued to push for “defunding police” despite the president’s rhetoric to the contrary during his time in office.
“With all due respect, Mr. President,” Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo, wrote on Twitter in response to the speech. “You didn’t mention saving Black lives once in this speech. All our country has done is given more funding to police. The result? 2021 set a record for fatal police shootings. Defund the police. Invest in our communities.”
While Rep. Bush doubled down on her message, other Democrats have drifted from it.
Tuesday was not President Biden’s first time to emphasize funding police. He has consistently held that message, defying others in his party. Last June, Mr. Biden called for hiring more police to stop the wave of violent crime that continues to sweep across American cities.
“But what I would say to you is that the president has never supported defunding the police,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a news briefing at the time. “He’s always supported community policing programs. He’s supported giving funding to — to states and localities around the country, including through his American Rescue Plan, because he thinks there is an essential role to play for community policing.”
Mr. Biden also pointed to specific policing strategies, like beat cop patrols as well as measures meant to prevent deaths, like “body cameras, banned chokeholds, and restricted no-knock warrants for its officers.”
“Like some of you that have been around for a while — I’ve worked with you on these issues for a long time,” President Biden said Tuesday evening. “I know what works: Investing in crime prevention and community policing — cops who walk the beat, who know the neighborhood, and who can restore trust and safety. Let’s not abandon our streets or choose between safety and equal justice. Let’s come together and protect our communities, restore trust, and hold law enforcement accountable.”
During his speech, President Biden noted he met with the families of slain New York City Police Department officers Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera.
“I recently visited the New York City Police Department days after the funerals of Officer Wilbert Mora and his partner, Officer Jason Rivera,” he said. “They were responding to a 9-1-1 call when a man shot and killed them with a stolen gun. Officer Mora was 27 years old. Officer Rivera was 22 years old. Both Dominican Americans who grew up in the same streets that they later chose to patrol as police officers.
“I spoke with their families, and I told them that we are forever in debt for their sacrifices, and we’ll carry on their mission to restore the trust and safety in every community deserves.”
Casey Harper works at The Center Square’s Washington, D.C., bureau.