Joe Biden's campaign came out Monday against the growing push to "defund the police," saying instead that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee supports the “urgent need for reform.”
“As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded,” Biden campaign Rapid Response Director Andrew Bates said in a statement Monday. “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 added that Biden supports “the urgent need for reform,” which he said includes “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.”
The Biden campaign pointed toward the former vice president’s criminal justice plan, which proposes an additional $300 million for community policing. Bates said that the funding would “improve relationships between officers and residents” and would “provide the training that is needed to avert tragic, unjustifiable deaths.”
“This funding would also go toward diversifying police departments so that they resemble the communities in which they serve,” Bates added, noting that there is need for “additional funding for body-worn cameras.”
The campaign’s statement came as a push by activists to defund, dismantle or otherwise overhaul police departments was gaining momentum in major cities -- most notably Minneapolis, where George Floyd's death while in police custody touched off nationwide protests and calls for policy changes in law enforcement.
But it has also put pressure on prominent Democrats like Biden to speak out on the radical calls to abolish police. The statement opposing this came minutes after the Trump campaign held a call with reporters slamming the presumptive Democratic nominee for not, at that point, condemning the push.
Trump campaign Communications Director Tim Murtaugh accused Biden of being “weak” and “unable to stand up to the most extreme elements in his party.”
“Joe Biden is attempting to pander and appease the far left of the party,” Murtaugh said Monday. “He doesn’t have the strength to stand up to the extremists in his party.”
He later said the Biden campaign's statement didn't go far enough. "Joe Biden cannot be let off the hook after his campaign issued a weak statement from a mid-level staffer. We still haven’t heard from Joe Biden himself on the radical ‘Defund the Police’ movement in the Democrat Party. It would have been the simplest thing in the world to stick his name on a statement, but he didn’t even do that," Murtaugh said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Biden campaign’s pointed to the former vice president’s criminal justice plan, which would “reinvigorate community-oriented policing.”
In a stunning development, Minneapolis’ left-leaning City Council members on Sunday announced a veto-proof push to disband the Minneapolis police, even as the mayor made clear he does not support abolishing the department.
What defunding the police looks like is different in various localities. In Minneapolis, the supermajority of the City Council seemingly supports a complete structural dismantling of the department. In other places, departments would remain in place but get fewer government resources, with some of their funding directed toward social justice programs.
President Trump on Monday issued a broad condemnation of the "defund" push.
"LAW & ORDER, NOT DEFUND AND ABOLISH THE POLICE. The Radical Left Democrats have gone Crazy!" he tweeted.