The White House issued a memo Monday urging state and local officials to use some of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief funding to combat crime as violence soars in American cities.
The memo details how states and municipalities can use the relief funds to boost law enforcement, invest in community policing, enforce gun laws and help recently released offenders reenter the community.
White House officials highlighted in the memo that some cities — including Philadelphia; Cincinnati; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Kansas City; and Syracuse, New York — have used the relief funds for crime reduction.
“The core of the President’s plan is a partnership with cities and states equipping local leaders with historical levels of federal funding and a range of tools to address the multifaceted challenge of gun violence,” reads the memo, written by White House advisers Susan Rice, Gene Sperling and Julie Rodriguez.
“As cities, counties and states around the country consider how to allocate the historic support they’ve received through the Rescue Plan, we again encourage them to use funding to improve public safety in their communities,” the memo states.
The memo was released on the same day President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland were scheduled to discuss rising crime rates with several mayors and police chiefs from big cities.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for New York mayor, were to attend the meeting. All are Democrats.
Also attending were police chiefs from Memphis, Tennessee; Chicago; Newark, New Jersey; and Mr. Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
The proposal to use coronavirus relief funds to fight crime builds on a bigger anti-crime proposal that the president announced last month.
Mr. Biden’s plan focuses on using relief funds to add police officers in some cities, investing in community anti-violence programs and cracking down on gun dealers who break the law.
The homicide rate rose nearly 30% from 2019 to 2020, according to preliminary government data. A study by Jeff Asher, who analyzes crime trends, revealed that the 2021 homicide rate is up 18% over last year’s.
Republicans say the Biden administration and other Democrats are soft on crime and are trying to link them to the “defund the police” movement that gained steam during racial justice protests last year. Mr. Biden has said repeatedly that he does not support reducing law enforcement funding.
The memo released Monday notes that Mr. Biden has asked for an additional $750 million for federal law enforcement agencies in his fiscal 2022 budget.