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Biden not in favor of defunding police, campaign says

Democrats unveil police reform bill
Democrats unveil police reform bill 11:04

Washington — Joe Biden does not support defunding police departments, a spokesman for his presidential campaign said Monday. There have been growing calls among activists and protesters to strip law enforcement agencies of their funding.

Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Biden's campaign, said in a statement that the former vice president "does not believe that police should be defunded." 

"He hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain," Bates said, adding that Biden "supports the urgent need for reform."

Biden's opposition to defunding police departments puts him at odds with activists and some progressive lawmakers who have amplified the slogan "defund the police" during demonstrations that have erupted nationwide in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. Some believe police departments should be dismantled outright, while others are urging elected officials to shift funding from law enforcement to other agencies and programs focused on community development.

Bates said the former vice president is in favor of allocating money to diversify police departments and allow for the purchase of body cameras.

"Biden supports the urgent need for reform — including funding for public schools, summer programs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment separate from funding for policing — so that officers can focus on the job of policing," Bates said. "This also means funding community policing programs that improve relationships between officers and residents, and provides the training that is needed to avert tragic, unjustifiable deaths."

Biden unveiled a criminal justice plan last year that tackled reforms to policing. The proposal calls for an injection of $300 million into the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which authorized money for the hiring of more police officers and policing training. He also vowed last week to create a police oversight board within his first 100 days in office.

The former vice president has come out in favor of barring police chokeholds and establishing a use-of-force standard.

"There are many police departments across the country who are seeking to realize these kinds of changes but haven't had the resources to, and the Trump administration has in fact made obtaining those resources more difficult," Bates said. "This is at the core of Joe Biden's plan to bring transformative change to our criminal justice system."

Floyd's death in late May has reignited calls for police reforms and an end to racial injustice. Earlier Monday, House and Senate Democrats unveiled a sweeping plan that aims to hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct and boost transparency.  

The legislation would in part require federal law enforcement officers to wear body cameras, ban no-knock warrants, make lynching a federal hate crime and prohibit police chokeholds.

Biden met with members of Floyd's family in Houston ahead of Floyd's funeral on Tuesday. Benjamin Crump, the family's attorney, said the former vice president spent more than an hour with Floyd's family members.

"He listened, heard their pain, and shared in their woe. That compassion meant the world to this grieving family," Crump tweeted.

President Trump's reelection campaign has been trying to link Biden to the "defund the police" movement. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said after Bates' statement that Biden "cannot be let off the hook."
 
"We still haven't heard from Joe Biden himself on the radical 'Defund the Police' movement in the Democrat Party," Murtaugh said in a statement. "It would have been the simplest thing in the world to stick his name on a statement, but he didn't even do that." 

Mr. Trump has characterized himself as "president of law and order" and knocked Democrats for wanting to defund law enforcement agencies.

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