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Biden chats up police chiefs on federal efforts to collar local crime rates

Democratic president says 2021’s American Rescue Plan provided billions of dollars that have been used effectively to fight crime, including gun violence, at state and local levels WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden used a meeting with police chiefs last week to spotlight his administration’s efforts to help cities and police departments manage crime while also providing job opportunities for youth in communities affected by that violence.

The president underscored how the American Rescue plan has helped Detroit pay for bonuses and hire 200 additional officers, Milwaukee fund gun-crime investigations and Chicago better focus on community violence-intervention efforts. He also took a glancing shot at Republicans, suggesting that his administration has helped cities around the U.S. reduce violent crime over Republican obstructionism.

“We stepped up thanks to my American Rescue Plan, which, I might note, not a single person on the other team voted for,” Bidens said at the start of the White House meeting that included the heads of police departments from Buffalo, N.Y.; Charlotte-Mecklenburg in North Caroline; Chicago; DeKalb County, Ga.; Miami; Milwaukee; and Philadelphia.

“American Rescue Plan funds have been used by Detroit to pay for police bonuses and hire 200 additional officers, Milwaukee to fund gun-crime investigations and Chicago to increase focus on community violence-intervention efforts, President Joe Biden told police chiefs.”

Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, hosted a roundtable later last Wednesday on $85 million in federal grants meant to improve job opportunities for youth in communities affected by gun violence and crime.

The president is looking to show he is tough on crime and compassionate to those communities affected by crime as the 2024 election heats up and Republicans characterize their rival Democrats as responsible.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan — passed in 2021 by a Democratic-led Congress and signed by Biden — contained $350 billion in flexible aid to states, territories, tribes, counties, cities and towns. Biden said billions of that money has been used effectively at fighting crime, including reducing gun violence.

“Since Day 1, my administration been working with law enforcement, mayors and community leaders to do what we know works to keep people in communities safe,” Biden said.

From the archives (May 2021): Cities and towns are about to get $65 billion in stimulus from Washington. Here’s what to know about the American Rescue Plan

Also see (January 2021): Biden’s ‘rescue America’ plan is big. How its trillions could help both Wall Street and Main Street.

Violent crime across the nation rose following the pandemic. But despite Republican claims that it’s continuing to rise, crime decreased in 2022, dropping to about the same level as before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the most recent FBI crime data. The exception is property crime.