President Biden’s relationship with America’s law enforcement community has gone from bad to worse in the nearly nine months that he has occupied the Oval Office, according to veteran police officers.
Rank-and-file cops and unions that broke away from Mr. Biden to endorse President Trump say they are “disgusted” with what they see as a lack of support from the White House.
“It’s been worse than I thought, especially with what I know about Biden,” said Paul DiGiacomo, president of the New York City Detectives’ Endowment Association.
“Biden was once a very strong supporter of the police, but he doesn’t appear to be one anymore,” Mr. DiGiacomo said. “Honestly, I haven’t seen anything I can point to in a positive manner.”
Even officers who backed Mr. Biden last year say they are frustrated with his performance on law-and-order issues.
Charles P. Wilson, chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, endorsed Mr. Biden personally because his organization is a nonprofit and cannot back political candidates.
Mr. Wilson acknowledged that the president’s lack of public praise for law enforcement is contributing to low morale at a time of record resignations and retirements from police forces.
“It’s an issue the administration should address. A lot of cops — because there is such a focus reform — think the administration point blank doesn’t care about them,” he said.
Mr. Biden came face to face with the law enforcement community Saturday when he delivered remarks at the 40th annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service outside the U.S. Capitol.
The president zeroed in on his own tragedies dealing with the deaths of his infant daughter, Naomi, in a 1972 car crash, and his eldest son, Beau, of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.
Mr. Biden acknowledged he didn’t know any of the nearly 500 fallen officers named in this year’s program but told the crowd that he understood them and their loss.
“Although I didn’t know them personally, I know you. I know you,” he said.
Touting efforts for a racial justice overhaul of policing, he said it would also be good for police officers.
“Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it’s ever been,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re waking up to the notion [that] unless we change the environment in which the job could be done, we’re going to have trouble.”
Officers’ complaints about Mr. Biden go beyond his lack of pro-police rhetoric.
They say the administration’s failure to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat the nation’s rising crime rate, Justice Department investigations into local police departments and support of police reform measures have further eroded morale.
Paul Beakman, a former officer who is running as a Democratic candidate for alderman in the upstate New York town of Lockport, said he feels the country is less safe under Mr. Biden.
“I’m disgusted,” he said. “The administration pretends it’s pro-police with this tremendous overemphasis on the Capitol incident in January. While that attack on my brothers and sisters was horrible, they’ve completely turned a blind eye on public safety in this country.”
The criticism is a stinging embarrassment for Mr. Biden, who long prided himself on his solid relationship with law enforcement. Mr. Biden was the driving force behind a 1994 crime bill that included grant money to communities to hire 100,000 more officers. It powered law enforcement with new tools and increased penalties for criminals.
In 2009, Mr. Biden donated $26,000 in leftover campaign funds to a memorial for fallen law enforcement in his home state of Delaware.
The relationship soured last summer with Mr. Biden’s tepid denunciation of rioters and embrace of calls for a major overhaul of policing laws and more oversight of police.
Violent crime is rising throughout the country, and polls show Mr. Biden’s approval rating is underwater.
Just 38% of Americans approve of the president’s response to increased crime and 48% disapprove, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released in July.
Republicans say the surge in violence is fueled by Democrats’ push to defund police, expose police officers to threats of lawsuits for their actions on the job and make it easier for accused criminals to get out of jail on bail.
Democrats blame lax gun laws and a struggling economy.
Mr. Biden has attempted to pivot on the issue.
In June, he vowed to wage war on violent crime. He announced tougher penalties for gun violations and urged cities to use federal COVID-19 relief funds to hire more police officers.
Mr. Biden has also bucked his party’s call to defund the police. He said he opposed the slogan aimed at cutting police departments’ budgets.
His fiscal year 2022 budget more than doubled funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), a Justice Department component that administers grants to state and local departments. The funds can be used to hire or rehire officers.
The COPS budget last year was $156.5 million. Mr. Biden has proposed increasing it to $388 million.
Mr. Biden also scuttled his plan to create a national police oversight commission, breaking a campaign promise to establish one within his first 100 days in office.
Perhaps the most stunning change is Mr. Biden’s distancing from a bill that implements major overhauls of policing. As a candidate, Mr. Biden championed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The bill has stalled in the Senate, and lawmakers and Mr. Biden have given up on the plan.
Mr. Biden promoted the bill dozens of times coming into office but has spoken little on the issue since. In September, Mr. Biden said he still hoped to sign the measure into law, but those changes are dim.
Mr. Wilson, one of the few officers who support the proposal, said he is disappointed that the president hasn’t pushed harder for the legislation.
“They had a halfway decent shot at police reform, but it didn’t pass muster,” he said.
A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Times.