Psaki: ‘Underfunding of Some Police Departments’ Partly to Blame for Surge in Crime

By Melanie Arter | January 24, 2022 | 7:07pm EST
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki takes questions during the daily press briefing on October 27, 2021, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki takes questions during the daily press briefing on October 27, 2021, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pointed to police underfunding as one of the reasons for the surge in violent crime in the United States, and she said Monday that President Biden “will not be satisfied or complacent when officers are being gunned down.”

“On crime to follow up on what Ed was asking about, would you agree the most important job for any president is to keep Americans safe?” Fox News Whtie House Correspondent Peter Doocy asked.

PSAKI: I would agree. 

DOOCY: You said the president is never satisfied if people don't feel safe. Does he know that after a year in office people do not feel safe in this country? 

PSAKI: Well, Peter, I think if we look at the facts here we have seen a surge of crime over the last two years, would you agree with that? 

DOOCY: So what are you attributing the rise in crime to then? 

PSAKI: Well I think we should be responsible in how we are reporting to the public what the roles are, what the reasons for the surge in crime. Gun violence is a huge reason for the surge in crime. Underfunding of some police departments and their need for additional resources, something the president has advocated for consistently through the course of his career. 

That’s something we know we need to take action on, and it is absolutely true that he will not be satisfied or complacent when officers are being gunned down or when Americans have to worry about whether they can safely ride the subway or bus. That should not be a political issue. He's somebody who has had many decades of fighting for funding for police departments, for local communities in order to reduce crime. 

DOOCY: But he's been here in office for more than a year, and the murder rate is nearing a 25-year high. So why don't we see and hear more from the president about this? We hear all the time about things that you guys are doing to fight the pandemic because that is a risk to American people. A rising murder rate is a risk to American people too, right? 

PSAKI: And he has spoken to crime, but I think what people are most focused on as they should be are what actions he has taken. He has unveiled the strategy to focus federal law enforcement resources on combating violent crime, offered unprecedented levels of funding to cities and states to put more cops on the beat, and invest in proven community anti-violence program - something every Republican voted against. 

The Department of Justice has announced $139 million in grants to cities for community policing, which will put 1,000 more officers on the streets. He’s also proposed doubling those grants and he’s called for additional $750 million for federal law enforcement. He's announced a tolerance policy for gun dealers who sell willfully– sell illegal guns and we’ve launched gun trafficking strike forces in New York and cities across the country. Actions are important here and he has a long record of them. 

DOOCY: But does the president think any of that is working? 

PSAKI: The president thinks he should have a plan to address crime and gun violence, he has one and we look forward to working with people who support that effort. 

DOOCY: But as the murder rate nears a 25-year high, would he consider maybe trying something different? 

PSAKI: Trying something other than supporting a massive plus-up in funding from his predecessor, cracking down on gun trafficking and violence, which is a major driver of the violence we’ve seen across the country, working to support community policing programs and police departments across the country. I think most people who want to fight crime would agree that's the right approach. 

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