During a Thursday meeting with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, President Joe Biden announced actions for investing in policing and community intervention programs in response to the surge in gun violence in recent years that has impacted many cities across the country, including New York City.
“Enough is enough,” Biden said.
Gun violence deaths have increased since 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began. There was a significant rise from 2019 to 2020, when murders rose by nearly 30%. Many cities are still experiencing record-breaking homicide numbers. So far this year, there have been 94 shooting incidents in New York City, compared to 71 in the same period last year.
During the discussion, which featured the leaders from across the city and New York state, Biden and Adams discussed intervention and prevention methods for dealing with gun violence, as well as strategies to curtail the flow of illegal weapons into impacted communities. Earlier in the day, for example, the Department of Justice had announced a new national ghost gun initiative to crack down on the weapons’ use in crimes. “[President Biden] is here because he knows what the American people want: justice, safety and prosperity,” Adams said.
“The answer is not to abandon our streets,” Biden said. “The answer is to come together, police and communities, building trust and making us all safer.”
In a press statement released the same day, Biden reiterated his calls for Congress to approve an investment of $300 million to fund the hiring of more community police officers and $200 million for “evidence-based community violence interventions.”
“The President knows a complex and devastating challenge like the surge of gun crime we’ve seen over the last two years requires an ambitious, evidence-based response that uses every tool at our disposal,” the statement reads, “and that’s exactly what his plan does.”
This meeting was a week after Adams announced a “blueprint” to address gun violence in New York City. While his plan featured some more community-oriented plans, it placed a strong—and, some have argued, stronger—emphasis on policing and other law enforcement strategies. In addition, Adams called for more collaboration will the federal government, something Biden stressed during their meeting discussion today.
“I want to help every major city follow New York’s lead… everyday here in New York City, federal, state and local enforcement meet to share intelligence about arrests and shootings from the day before and work to take those shooters off the street as soon as possible,” Biden said.
But in following New York’s lead, activists remain concerned that Biden will be too focused on policing, even when framed as “community policing.” This is particularly the case given the administration’s failure to pass the George Floyd Policing Act, proposed legislation to address policing practices and law enforcement accountability; the New York Times reported just earlier this week that the White House had been working to shore up a “potential breach… brewing for months” between the Biden administration and police leaders.
“Adams’ approach to gun violence isn’t aligned with what we’ve been led to believe are Biden’s approaches. Biden committed to ending things that Adams wants to embrace,” says Scott Roberts, Senior Director of Criminal Justice Campaigns at Color of Change, a nonprofit civil rights organization. “It seems like he’s trying to embrace Adams’ approach. That’s concerning.”
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