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Police departments use COVID funds to fight crime at Biden’s urging

Cities across the nation are using American Rescue Plan dollars to boost public safety


Associated Press

By Suzie Ziegler

WASHINGTON — In June, President Joe Biden laid out his new crime-prevention strategy amid a nationwide uptick in violent crime. Biden emphasized in his report that cities can use COVID-19 relief funds to hire more police officers and pay for overtime.

Since Biden’s plan was launched, police leaders across the country have been using American Rescue Plan dollars to combat crime, according to a White House memo on Monday.

“Already we’ve seen state and local governments utilize the funding they’ve received to put more cops on the beat, invest in community violence intervention programs, bolster community programs and economic opportunities, and acquire technology like gunshot detection systems that will help them better confront crime head-on,” the memo reads in part.

The following cities are using Rescue Plan funds to boost public safety, according to the report:

  • Utica, N.Y., plans to support “gun violence prevention and law enforcement career recruiting efforts.”

  • Walla Walla, Wash., will “fund new police hires.”

  • Tucson, Ariz., “plan[s] to invest at least $7 million in community safety, health and wellness, and violence interruption programs.”

  • Cincinnati, Ohio, is using Rescue Plan funds to increase its policing and emergency services budget.

  • Philadelphia, Pa., is spending “$1.3 million to expand proven violence interruption programs” and “$2 million for a Transitional Jobs Program to address a root cause of violence, lack of job opportunities.”

  • Albuquerque, N.M., is investing “$3 million to expand a gunshot detection system, $5 million to refurbish station houses, $1 million for new cars and $450,000 to recruit more officers.”

  • Watertown, N.Y., will use some of its Rescue Plan funds “to reinstate four police officers and two other city staff positions.”

  • Kansas City, Mo., seeks to “restore police departments to pre-pandemic levels.”

  • Syracuse, N.Y., will invest in an “enhancement of the police department’s ShotSpotter system, which helps locate gunfire; a collaboration with mental health providers to assist with mental health-related police calls; [and] increased police transparency.”

On Monday, Biden met with police and city leaders to continue the conversation about crime prevention. The cities represented at the meeting – including D.C., San Jose, California, New York City and Chicago – are all using American Rescue Plan funds to improve public safety, according to the memo.

Read the full statement below: