Joe Biden said in an interview Wednesday that some funding should “absolutely” be redirected from police, amid calls from some in his party to "defund the police" in the wake of the protests across the country.
Biden's campaign has said he does not support defunding the police. But in a Now This interview with activist Ady Barkan, the presumptive Democratic nominee said that police forces don’t need surplus military equipment, saying this is what leads them to “become the enemy” in a community.
“But do we agree that we can redirect some of the [police] funding?” Barkan asked Biden.
“Yes, absolutely,” said the former vice president.
Biden went on to call for police reforms.
"One of the things that we also need to be doing is fundamentally changing way we deal with our prison system," he said. "It should be a rehabilitation system, not a punishment system. We’re going to make sure you're qualified for every single right you had before you went to prison if you served your time."
In early June, the Biden campaign said that Biden does not believe that police should be defunded.
“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 at the time. “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 has pointed to 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.”
In response to Biden's new comments, Trump 2020 campaign rapid response director Andrew Clark wrote on Twitter it looked like Biden had “changed his position” on defunding police, adding a clip from the Now This interview.
But Biden's campaign denied it signaled a change in his position.
“I'd like to thank Donald Trump - for hiring an illiterate comms staff. Biden is running on *more* COPS funding for community policing,” Bates, Biden’s director of rapid response, shot back. “The same sentiment you're taking out of context RE: local budgets is *in* the articles about him opposing defunding.”
Biden in the interview also said he believes it is the job of the federal government to "go in" and "systemically change what's going on."
He specifically called for banning no-knock warrants and improving police transparency.
"This whole idea of no-knock warrants in drug cases is bizarre, it just invites trouble," Biden said. "There's a fundamental need for transparency and access to police records when they have misconduct charges against them.
Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.