Does Mr. Biden have any police or crime control options that will not cost him politically?
To rebuild high poverty areas and to create good-paying jobs, violence needs to be significantly reduced. To do that, Mr. Biden needs the support of cops.
Obama: Cool it with the “defund the police” slogan. Based on election results, those wanting to run against cops would do well to reconsider their position.
“This childish ‘defund’ whining has killed robust reform,” said another Democratic congressional aide.
Per Gallup, the majority of those polled believe that “tough on crime” issues should guide public policy.
If you want cops to risk their well being to protect high crime residents, they have to be supported. It’s not a one-way street.
This site just offered an article titled, Tough On Crime Wins Elections, indicating that Americans rejected progressive solutions on crime and Democrats took a beating in the last election in the Senate, House, and state elections. Per Politico, Democratic leaders are now blaming each other for the losses, Politico. Yes, Mr. Biden won, but just barely.
Obama: Cool It With The “Defund The Police” Slogan
Obama: Cool it with the “defund the police” slogan. The former president this week cautioned justice reform advocates against using the phrase to describe efforts to reduce police brutality and limit racial disparities in policing. “I guess you can use a snappy slogan like ‘Defund The Police,’” Obama told an interviewer, “but, you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done…” CNN Some Democratic lawmakers, like Rep. Ilhan Omar, immediately pushed back, The Guardian.
Police Reforms Now In Jeopardy (quotes rearranged for readability)
Per The Crime Report: During a House Democrats call about the November election results, New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell said he had been forced to “walk the plank” on the police immunity issue, angering police unions. Pascrell had voted for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was passed by the House in June and included a provision to limit the use of qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that shields law enforcement from liability in civil cases where people allege violation of their constitutional rights.
Pascrell’s comment was part of a wider discussion in which Democrats complained that bending to calls for police reform had hurt them, The Intercept reports.
Some members blamed activists’ demand to “defund the police” for the disappointing election results.
One result of conflating “defund the police” with modest police reforms that have broad bipartisan support, like ending or limiting qualified immunity, is that those reforms are now in jeopardy.
“Even without the defund debate, I know there are some moderate members who think that the George Floyd Act was a political liability and who may be loath to vote on it again next year if it’s DOA in the Senate,” said one Democratic aide.
New Jersey’s largest police union, the Policemen’s Benevolent Association, withdrew its endorsement of Pascrell over his vote for the bill. “This childish ‘defund’ whining has killed robust reform,” said another Democratic congressional aide.
House Democrats, who will have a slimmer majority next session, plan to reintroduce the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would bar local police and federal officers from using qualified immunity as a defense. The bill would not defund the police, which Congress does not have the power to do.
Moderate Democrats are still blaming the underlying goals of the Justice in Policing bill for putting them in difficult positions.
But It Goes Beyond Politics
Per Gallup, the majority of those polled believe that “tough on crime” issues should guide public policy, Gallup.
Violent crime is up 28 percent since 2015 per the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice. Per Gallup, violence has tripled. Violence is skyrocketing in 2020 in a variety of cities, US Crime Rates.
Americans are more likely to perceive crime in the U.S. as having increased over the prior year (78%) than they have been at any point since 1993, Gallup.
Support for law enforcement indicates that they are still one of the most trusted institutions in America, Perceptions of Law Enforcement.
Considering articles summarizing the election, those wanting to run against cops would do well to reconsider their position.
Cops Remain A Hot Button Issue
There are issues within law enforcement that need to be addressed.
Media coverage (some of it deserved) was overwhelmingly critical resulting in cops leaving the job at the insistence of family members. Recruitment is down 63 percent. Cities across the country report problems having enough personnel to respond to incidents. Violent crime in some cities is skyrocketing.
In the middle of all this is Mr. Biden who understands that law enforcement issues drive many in his base. He has to do “something” to show that voter concerns are being addressed.
He also understands that he could make things much worse, almost eliminating his chances for reelection if more cops walk off the job, cities crumble, and if the current high rate of violence continues. Fear of crime is affecting everything from jobs, economic development, education, and the psychological well-being of children and residents.
Mr. Biden is off to a rough start on a variety of public safety issues, demanding a COVID national mask mandate that is impossible to enforce. He also promised to cut the prison population in half (or more), another promise he doesn’t have the power to enforce, and one guaranteed to enrage the public, Cutting Prisons.
When it comes to law enforcement, he is equally hamstrung.
Mr. Biden’s Police Reform Agenda (quotes rearranged for readability)
The Marshall Project: Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, policing has been at the forefront of public consciousness for much of 2020. That interest gives Biden the political capital to act, but doesn’t change the fact that policing is primarily local, and nationwide change is hard to enforce at the federal level.
The U.S. has some 18,000 law enforcement agencies, all with their own rules and regulations. If Biden wants to make changes on his own (he has suggested banning no-knock raids and chokeholds, for example) he will mostly be limited to offering funding or threatening funding cuts to departments based on whether they follow guidance issued by his Department of Justice.
Notably, the Trump administration has already moved to ban restraint maneuvers that “restrict an individual’s ability to breathe” via executive order, announcing plans for implementation last week.
This strategy has had some impact in the past, but federal funding makes up only 3 percent of local law enforcement spending nationwide, so changes are hardly a slam-dunk. Biden has also promised to revitalize federal investigations of departments that demonstrate a pattern of civil rights violations. These investigations were routinely conducted by the Obama administration but abandoned by President Donald Trump. Historically they have led to consent decrees in some of the nation’s largest cities and produced the now frequently-cited Ferguson Report.
The president-elect repeatedly spoke about wanting to convene “cops, social workers … and the Black and Brown community,” and experts say they expect him to build on some of the relationships and work that the Obama administration’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing started.
Biden could encourage lawmakers to pass a version of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House earlier this year before being stymied in the Senate. The legislation would have a much larger impact than the administration could have on its own. The bill, among other things, would set a national use-of-force standard, make it easier to charge police with crimes at the federal level and establish a national registry of misconduct by law enforcement officers. How far such a comprehensive policing bill would go will depend on which party maintains control over the Senate.
Biden brings to the White House a long history of close relationships with law enforcement, but one that has recently frayed as police unions largely defected to Trump. Biden’s loss of political capital with cops stems partly from his slight shift leftward during this year’s Democratic primaries, when he started openly using terms like “systemic racism” in conversations about policing. It is also a result of how the Obama administration, with Biden as vice president and point person on law enforcement issues, aggressively investigated police departments accused of excessive use of force and racist practices, The Marshall Project
In the summary above, there is literally nothing by Mr. Biden addressing violent crime.
Eliminating chokehold or no-knock warrants or a national use of force standard “might” impact one percent of police interactions. Per data from the US Department of Justice on police-public interactions, the use of force by police is extremely rare.
His willingness to explore police and/or social workers responding to mental health calls has promise but it won’t cut crime.
He can convene a national commission to buy time but President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing already covered that ground.
It’s the “interactions” with the public that really count and those show that police officers acted responsibly regardless of demographics. Data show that law enforcement remains one of the nation’s most respected institutions ranking much higher than Congress and the media, Perceptions of Law Enforcement.
Yes, there is a centuries-old history of animosity (and worse) between law enforcement and minorities but that didn’t stop increasing numbers of Blacks and Hispanics voting for Trump (Mr. law and order) during the last election.
It’s abundantly obvious that police minority relations need vast improvement but it’s equally obvious that you need cops to be proactively engaged to knock down the increasing rate of violent crime. If you want cops to risk their well being to protect high crime residents, they have to be supported. It’s not a one-way street.
I predict that Mr. Biden will immediately call for national commissions to address crime and justice issues just to buy some time and to give progressives a chance to vent.
He knows he doesn’t have the legal authority or money to make substantial changes. He also understands that Democrats lost big via the House, Senate, and state races partially based on cops and crime. He understands that it could happen again.
Mr. Biden was a staunch supporter of law enforcement and tough on crime approaches. He’s not as confused as his remarks indicate regarding an impossible to enforce COVID national mask mandate and a willingness to cut the prison population by more than 50 percent without having the legal authority to do so.
Mr. Biden’s been around long enough to understand that you need cops to be appropriately proactive to cut violence and those arrested for crimes of violence need prison terms.
The more proactivity you create, the greater the chances of use of force issues, which is why cops are backing off and violence is increasing.
I don’t envy Joe Biden. He’s placed himself between forces crucial to his success and reelection. National commissions will not solve his problem. Yes, allied advocates will insist that violence is down or greatly exaggerated or that Americans should be ashamed for their unrealistic fear of crime, but per polls, no one believes them.
To rebuild high poverty areas and to create high paying jobs, violence needs to be significantly reduced.
To do that, Mr. Biden needs the support of appropriately aggressive-proactive cops. For that to happen, they need community understanding.
In the minds of thousands of cops leaving the job or refusing to be proactive after intense criticism, no justice, no peace.
See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.
Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.
US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.
National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.
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