President Joe Biden will urge state and local leaders on Friday to make greater use of money from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to fight crime as cities gird for summer crime waves, and the U.S. Treasury releases billions more in funds.
The pandemic relief fund, passed by Democratic majorities in the U.S. Congress and signed into law a year ago, was a signature achievement of Biden's first year in office. State and local governments were allotted $350 billion to be released in two traunches, in May of 2021 and this month.
Senior administration officials said some $10 billion from the rescue plan has been used by state and local governments to bolster their police forces and support community programs aimed at keeping neighborhoods safer.
Worry about crime and violence in the United States is at its highest level since 2016, an April Gallup poll shows, amid a surge in gun deaths in 2020. While some progressive Democrats called for defunding police departments after a string of high-profile slayings of black men by white officers, Biden has stressed spending more on police.
Biden wants communities to "put more police officers on the beat – with the resources, training, and accountability they need to engage in effective community policing," the White House said.
Biden will meet Friday with local elected officials, chiefs of police and a community violence intervention expert from cities across America that have used rescue funds to help fight crime.
He will then deliver remarks in the Rose Garden noting state and local leaders who are using American Rescue Plan funding for safety measures, and call on other state and local leaders to make similar investments quickly, the White House said.
"President Biden believes that the surge in gun violence that has affected communities across the country over the last year and a half is unacceptable, and his administration is moving decisively to act with a whole-of-government approach as we enter the summer months when cities typically experience a spike in violence," the White House said.