Biden, White House shift tone on law and order amid crime spike in America

Biden suggested on the campaign trail that he would be 'absolutely' OK with efforts to redirect some police funding, a suggestion he later walked back

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President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have attempted to distance themselves from the push to defund the police as big cities have become hotspots for violent crime, including robberies, murders, assaults and retail theft.

Recent surges in crime have led many Americans to question the "defund the police" movement, with cities like Seattle, Minneapolis and New York rejecting measures to withdraw funding from law enforcement officials. A Fox News poll from April found that a majority of registered voters disagree with reducing police funding and moving it to other areas.

Prior to taking office, Biden suggested on the campaign trail that he would be "absolutely" OK with efforts to redirect some police funding, a suggestion he later walked back as he targeted Republicans and claimed they were "lying" about efforts promoted by members of the Democratic Party to "defund the police." 

At that time, Biden claimed he had "never said defund the police" and insisted "we need more policemen, not fewer policemen" despite his previous support for reallocating funds.

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

But as president, Biden has not signaled support for taking money away from police departments, and the White House has touted the president's plan to make more federal money available to officers.

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In June 2020, Harris, who served as the first female district attorney in San Francisco's history, refused to answer whether she supports the "defund the police" movement and instead said she believes "we need to reimagine public safety in America."

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, a significant spike in crime was documented across America as the Black Lives Matter movement rose to prominence and calls grew to defund the police. Earlier this year, the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice released data that showed a sharp rise in homicides in 2020. Another report noted that murders had increased 16% across major cities from May 2020 to May 2021.

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Preliminary FBI data for 2020 revealed that cities with more than a million people saw a 3.9% rise in violent crimes, and those with between 500,000 and a million saw a 5.8% rise. Towns with fewer than 10,000 residents saw a decrease of 5.2%.

Prior to the election, Biden championed the Black Lives Matter (BLM) agenda, writing in an October 2020 Instagram post highlighting the movement that it is "past time we address systemic racism in all aspects of this country" and "reform our criminal justice system." In addition, Biden claimed at the time that America "has failed the Black community too many times."

Vice President Kamala Harris waves as she departs after speaking at the Tribal Nations Summit in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Washington.

Vice President Kamala Harris waves as she departs after speaking at the Tribal Nations Summit in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Likewise, Harris praised the "brilliance" and "impact" of the BLM protests as she insisted they were "necessary" in a September 2020 interview. That following December, Harris issued a tweet urging Americans to "continue speaking these words: All Black Lives Matter."

But the movement has been expressing public frustration with the lack of support from the Biden administration recently.

In an April 2021 tweet, Black Lives Matter claimed minority communities "are being terrorized at a greater rate than they had been under Trump" as a result of Biden "sending more military equipment to [those] neighborhoods" for police use.

Following a meeting with White House officials and leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement over the summer, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation told CNBC that it is "surprised by [the Biden administration's] lack of progress on issues that matter to Black people, the same communities that so strongly supported Biden-Harris during last year’s election."

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Before they were elected, Biden and Harris faced scrutiny for refusing to acknowledge or condemn the lasting, widespread damage caused to Americans and businesses as the result of multiple Black Lives Matter protests in America during the summer of 2020.

In January, Biden did not acknowledge those violent protests and suggested that if those who took part in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol "had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting" they would have been "treated very, very differently."

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced this week that the Biden administration is working with the Justice Department and FBI in providing resources to boost local police departments in cities hit the hardest by organized smash-and-grab robberies. Psaki previously tied the rise of retail theft to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Biden also recently signed three pieces of bipartisan legislation that support police officers, the law enforcement community and federal officials.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fox News' Maxim Lott contributed to this article.