Biden: Use COVID-19 aid to hire more cops, fight violent crime

The president also said cities can use the money to buy crime-fighting technologies, like gunshot detection systems


By Suzie Ziegler 

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden laid out his new crime-prevention strategy on Wednesday amid a nationwide uptick in violent crime. In his report, Biden emphasized that cities can hire more police officers and pay for overtime using aid from the American Rescue Plan, a $350 billion COVID-19 relief package.   

The money can also be used to buy “crime-fighting technologies,” like gunshot detection systems, and aid for substance abuse and mental health services. 

President Joe Biden speaks during an event in the State Dining room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, June 23, 2021, to discuss gun crime prevention strategy.
President Joe Biden speaks during an event in the State Dining room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, June 23, 2021, to discuss gun crime prevention strategy. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In addition, the administration will be working with 14 cities – including Baltimore and Minneapolis – that are increasing investments in community violence intervention programs, according to The Wall Street Journal

“It means more police officers, more nurses, more counselors, more social workers or community violence interrupters to help resolve issues before they escalate into crimes,” Biden said. 

Biden also called for a crackdown on illegal firearms dealers. His administration wants more funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to increase their dealer inspection capacity, according to the report. 

“Starting next month, ATF will begin sharing inspection data with the 16 states that license or regulate firearms dealers themselves," Biden continued. 

The president also vowed to bolster communication between different levels of law enforcement. 

“We will improve information sharing with state, local, tribal and territorial partners to help bring more intelligence and law enforcement resources to bear — as well as with the public, to increase our own accountability,” the president said. 

This all comes as many U.S. cities experience a wave of violent crime. In the last three months of 2020, homicides rose 32.2% in cities with populations of a million or more, reported The Wall Street Journal, citing the FBI’s Quarterly Uniform Crime Report.

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