WH Press Secretary on Whether U.S. Cities Are Safe: Not a Yes or No Question

Melanie Arter | September 26, 2022 | 9:15pm EDT
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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily briefing in the James S Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 26, 2022. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily briefing in the James S Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 26, 2022. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Thefts and robberies in major cities are up 20 percent in the first half of 2022, according to the Council on Criminal Justice, but White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said there’s no yes or no answer on whether President Biden thinks big cities are safe.

According to the Council on Criminal Justice, “Aggravated assaults (+4%) and robberies (+19%) increased in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of 2021.”


Furthermore, “The number of homicides declined by 2% in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of 2021 (a decrease of 54 homicides). While this reduction is heartening, the homicide rate is still 39% higher than it was during the first half of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Does President Biden think America’s big cities are safe?” Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy asked on Monday.

JEAN-PIERRE: Can you say more?

DOOCY: Well we know that thefts and robberies are up about 20 percent in the first half of this year, so I’m wondering if he thinks America’s big cities are safe.

JEAN-PIERRE: Are you talking about the NY Times story specifically? Is that what you’re referring to?

DOOCY: Yes, it says the murder rate’s still 30 percent above the 2019 level. They’re all from the Council on Criminal Justice, so we’ve seen some high-profile examples of this. The Washington Commanders running back was being mugged. He got shot. Karen Bass, member of Congress, had her house robbed. These are high-profile people, so should everyday Americans who are not in the public eye feel safe?

JEAN-PIERRE: I’ll say this. That same story also stated that the crime is complicated and multi-faceted. Look, this is a president who has secured historic funding to make sure that law enforcement has what it needs, especially — and he was able to do this in the face of opposition from Republicans. 

During a time where he inherited a rising crime rate from the previous administration, the president put forth the American Rescue Plan, and in that very plan, there was more than $300 billion to go to local states and local cities to make sure that they were able to hire law enforcement officers, they were able to hire firefighters, they were able to hire people that were critical to their needs as they were dealing with a pandemic. Republicans voted against that.

DOOCY: So I guess, just the original question. Does President Biden think America’s big cities are safe?

JEAN-PIERRE: It is not a yes or no question. It is very much a question of what has he done - that’s how we see the question is what has he done to make sure that cities, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a big city or a small city. It doesn't matter if it's a red state or a blue state.

What matters is that we have the funding and we have done the work, put the policy forward to make sure that these cities - whether it’s big or small - have what they need to protect their community, and that’s what this president has done - again, without the help of Republicans.

DOOCY: And my last one on this. Jen Psaki says that crime is a huge vulnerability for Democrats. Why would Jen Psaki say that?

JEAN-PIERRE: So again I can’t do electoral politics from here as you know, but I don’t agree with your characterization of what she actually said, but I’ll say this, and I’ve already addressed this already. The past few months what we’ve been able to do is create a pretty much clear split-screen of what we are doing to deliver for the American people and what Republicans refuse to do.  

We are making that we have Medicare and Social Security, and we make sure that the Big Pharma is not upping costs for our seniors and making sure that we give them a little bit of breathing room, and we have Republicans who want to cut Medicare. They want to sunset Medicare. They want to sunset Social Security.

You have this GOP agenda that was put out by the House where they want to go after the Inflation Reduction Act, which will have an effect that will actually hurt Americans, and so I think there is a stark contrast here that we’ve seen the past several months. I would argue the past 19 months.

DOOCY: And my last one on this. Jen Psaki says that crime is a huge vulnerability for Democrats. Why would Jen Psaki say that?

JEAN-PIERRE: So again I can’t do electoral politics from here as you know, but I don’t agree with your characterization of what she actually said, but I’ll say this, and I’ve already addressed this already. The past few months what we’ve been able to do is create a pretty much clear split-screen of what we are doing to deliver for the American people and what Republicans refuse to do. 

We are making that we have Medicare and Social Security, and we make sure that the Big Pharma is not upping costs for our seniors and making sure that we give them a little bit of breathing room, and we have Republicans who want to cut Medicare. They want to sunset Medicare. They want to sunset Social Security.

You have this GOP agenda that was put out by the House where they want to go after the Inflation Reduction Act, which will have an effect that will actually hurt Americans, and so I think there is a stark contrast here that we’ve seen the past several months. I would argue the past 19 months.

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