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Biden took credit, but we should thank local cops for cutting crime

OpinionBiden took credit, but we should thank local cops for cutting crime

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The re-election campaign for President Joe Biden is spending significant bandwidth trying to rehabilitate his poor reputation on the subject of crime and criminal justice policy, and for good reason. Recent polling shows that more than half of the country is dissatisfied with how the president handles crime. 

First, the president hosted a White House event attended by major city police chiefs where he touted and claimed credit for recent dips in violent crime. Biden also inaccurately boasted to the entire nation in his State of the Union that his administration gave communities the tools to crack down on crime. Both were transparent attempts to score political points during an election year.  

Let’s give credit where credit is due. Yes, it’s encouraging that crime is beginning to drop after historic increases during the pandemic, but the Biden administration’s big government, free-spending blank checks were not the hero of the day. What makes communities safer is the actions of law enforcement, community leaders and local governments.  

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The latest Harvard CAPS-Harris poll finds that “crime and drugs” rank as the fourth-largest concern among voters. Biden’s campaign is scrambling to win over concerned voters with a so-called “fact sheet,” in which the administration blames former President Donald Trump for the historic rise in homicides in 2020.  

Detroit is one of the cities where local police have been successful cutting crime. (Detroit Police Department)

It also points to billions of tax dollars doled out to cities that, coincidentally, align with the electoral map of battleground states. And the talking points chastise opponents for not voting for another million-billion-trillion-dollar appropriations.  

These campaign claims rely heavily on cherry-picked examples. Detroit, for example, is cited as a success due to an 18% decrease in homicides from 2022 to 2023. While the White House claims Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan deserves credit by enabling the city to hire more police officers, those closest to the crime problems in Detroit – local judges, law enforcement and city officials – credit a coalition started by the Detroit Police chief in 2021. 

The coalition focused on reducing court backlogs for felony gun possession cases and improving coordination among police, prosecutors and corrections. What’s more, it was state and local leaders who identified and implemented financial policies to hire more police officers. The real story is how local law enforcement answered the call during unprecedented times.  

The Biden administration also constantly avoids mention of Washington, DC, where the event and his speech were hosted. The nation’s capital received billions – yes, billions – in recovery aid under the same plan as Detroit. Yet, the capital city just recorded the highest number of homicides in two decades, along with nearly 1,000 carjackings. Clearly, money was not the solution, demonstrating that the true responsibility for successes and failures in public safety lies solely with the people in charge. 

Biden also failed to mention Dallas, Texas -– a curious omission given that Dallas is the only top-10 city to have reduced total violent crime from 2021 to 2023. But it wasn’t government handouts that made the community safer. It was police, city government, and community leaders working together to reduce crime. 

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia implemented the Violent Crime Reduction Plan in 2021, which focused on evidence-based policing practices, such as focused deterrence and hot-spot policing, decreasing city blight and expanding community programs and services for at-risk citizens – another example of local leadership stepping up to solve local problems. 

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History is watching, the president told the nation in his State of the Union as he promised to strengthen penalties on fentanyl trafficking despite his open border policies that flout the rule of law and allow tens of thousands to cross our borders daily. 

Combating crime and drugs with local coordination and innovation, Kansas City, Kansas, saw double-digit decreases in homicides, rapes and aggravated batteries from 2022 to 2023.  

The latest Harvard CAPS-Harris poll finds that “crime and drugs” rank as the fourth-largest concern among voters. Biden’s campaign is scrambling to win over concerned voters with a so-called “fact sheet,” in which the administration blames former President Donald Trump for the historic rise in homicides in 2020. 

In 2022, KCK police implemented a new strategy to avoid repeating the mistakes of the crack cocaine epidemic. For every overdose death, law enforcement sends narcotics detectives and prosecutors to the scene to quickly and thoroughly gather evidence which can be used to prosecute high-level drug dealers and suppliers. Responders also help those with substance use disorders into treatment.  

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This type of proactive, evidence-based policing is where campaigns should be placing credit for improvements, not the Biden Blank Checks. This type of dishonest politicking does a disservice to communities doing the hard work and others looking for real solutions to crime and drug addiction.  

While proper funding is of course a necessary function, especially for local police departments, strong local leadership and evidence-based practices are ultimately what matter. Don’t let another politician fool you into thinking otherwise.  

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Greg Glod is the senior criminal justice policy fellow for Americans for Prosperity.

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