President Biden sent a clear message in his State of the Union address that he has no appetite for the “defund the police” movement, distancing himself from Democratic activists who have rallied behind the call as part of a push to rethink policing.
Mr. Biden said the federal government must spend more money on “crime prevention” and putting more cops on the streets, telling lawmakers “let’s not abandon our streets or choose between safety and equal justice.”
“We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police,” Mr. Biden said. “The answer is to fund the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.”
Mr. Biden found an unlikely ally on this front.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, the far-right firebrand from Colorado, shouted: “That’s right!” And she led the GOP in jumping up to clap for his warning against defunding.
Members of the far-left squad appeared less thrilled. They sat silently and did not clap.
Calls to “defund the police” were all the rage in far-left circles in recent election cycles. But the anti-police sentiment also was blamed for causing headaches for Democrats in suburban districts where the idea went over like a lead balloon.
A subsequent crime wave made the idea even less popular.
Republicans, meanwhile, used the slogan to cast the entire Democratic Party as soft on crime.
Mr. Biden never jumped on the defund-the-police bandwagon and instead pushed for more money for law enforcement.
Mr. Biden said Tuesday the Justice Department has made changes, including requiring law enforcement officers to wear body cameras, banning chokeholds and restricting no-knock warrants for its officers.
Mr. Biden said the American Rescue Plan included $350 million to help “hire more police” and said his budget plan would do more to “keep our neighborhoods safe.”
“Let’s come together to protect our communities, restore trust and hold law enforcement accountable,” he said.
• Haris Alic contributed to this report.