President Biden has acknowledged the country’s crime problem with a $37 billion proposal that aims to invest in police departments and other public safety measures, but experts say it falls short of addressing real issues facing law enforcement across the country.
"Increase funding for police departments, hiring another 100,000 police officers to have ‘accountable community policing,’ these are slogans that have no meaning," Maria "Maki" Haberfeld, chair of the Department of Law Enforcement Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, told Fox News Digital. "These are moves that have no meaning."
That’s because research calls for improving the standards for recruitment and training, she said, not increased hiring under the current criteria.
"We have problems with police departments around the country that have nothing to do with how many police officers we have," she said. "The problems are there because there is a lack of support for police organizations. There is a disdain for the profession."
And there’s outsize focus on a small number of high-profile events that she described as "a vilification of police professionals."
"Saying ‘I’m going to hire another 100,000’ – from where are you going to hire that from, the bottom of the pit?" she said. "The best of the best are not going to be attracted to the profession the way it is treated today."
The solution is not hiring more officers, it’s hiring better ones, she argued. That would involve raising education requirements to at least an undergraduate degree, raising the minimum age to 25 and paying for better training and equipment.
The White House says the proposal "funds the police" by providing $13 billion to hire another 100,000 officers over the next five years, and it calls for stiffer enforcement of existing gun laws – distancing the low-polling president from the far-left "defund the police" rallying cry and progressive district attorneys who are reluctant to pursue charges against felons in possession of a firearm. It also aims to address mental health and substance abuse treatment and would create a $15 billion grant fund for plans to prevent violent crime or delegate nonviolent calls to unarmed civilians.
But many concerns of experienced law enforcement officers go unaddressed, critics told Fox News Digital.
Police morale is sagging around the country. Chicago’s police department just lost two officers and a sergeant to suicide in under a month. A perceived disdain for the profession leaves departments struggling to hire, even ones with available funding, and struggling to retain officers.
"What would go a long way to helping these billions of dollars that he wants to put toward law enforcement and crime prevention, first and foremost: Apologize to American law enforcement for continuing to vilify us and lie about us," Betsy Brantner Smith, a retired police sergeant and the spokesperson for the National Police Association, told Fox News Digital. "That would include the remarks he made during the primary, that American law enforcement will shoot you."
At issue were 2020 campaign trail remarks following the shooting of Jacob Blake.
"Once again a Black man, Jacob Blake, has been shot by the police in broad daylight with the whole world watching," Biden said in the video, later attributing the incident to "systemic racism."
A White Wisconsin officer shot Blake, who was armed with a knife, while responding to a domestic 911 call. The suspect had several active warrants, including one on a sexual assault charge, and allegedly wrestled with officers when they tried to arrest him. The Justice Department later declined to pursue charges against the officer.
Even if departments could find enough qualified applicants to meet the White House goal, Brantner Smith added, those officers wouldn’t be ready to hit the streets until next year.
"Police recruiting is down over 60% right now, so throwing money at the problem without addressing the root issue of why we can’t recruit and retain law enforcement officers is not going to do much to prevent and deal with crime," she said.
That includes taking an earnest look at recent attempts at law enforcement reforms, according to Paul Mauro, an attorney and former NYPD inspector who recently wrote a New York Post op-ed that touched on the subject.
"More funding is always welcome, but without a serious approach to reforming the so-called reforms that have disfigured our criminal justice system, we are just throwing good money at bad ideas," he said.
Patrol officers have real concerns about whether they’ll get thrown under the bus for doing their job, about policies that prevent them from pursuing suspects and about seeing repeat offenders released under bail reform laws in some states.
Another issue Mauro raised is funding and space for corrections officers and housing inmates.
"I also have to ask: Is corrections funding included? The crisis in our jails and prisons is often overlooked but every bit as critical."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.