President Biden knows what works to make our communities safer: investing in community policing and crime prevention. We need to fund police who walk the beat, know the neighborhood, are accountable to those they are sworn to serve, and build community trust and safety. We need to invest in mental health and substance use treatment services, crisis responders, and social workers to reduce the burden on police officers and prevent violent crime. We need to expand community violence interventions – led by trusted messengers breaking the cycle of violence and trauma. We need to enforce our commonsense gun laws, require background checks for all gun sales in order to keep firearms out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers, and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines – weapons of war that have no place in our communities.
President Biden has taken action to make our communities safer during his first 18 months in office:
- Funded the police and improved police accountability. Other politicians talk about funding the police, but President Biden and Congressional Democrats actually got it done by enacting the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Over $10 billion in ARP funds have already been committed to policing and other public safety efforts – including at least $6.5 billion in State and Local funds committed in more than 300 communities across the country. Along with ongoing support from the Justice Department, ARP investments made 2021 among the largest single-year commitments of federal resources for state and local law enforcement and public safety on record. President Biden also signed a historic executive order to advance effective, accountable policing that will build public trust and strengthen public safety. Leading civil rights organizations and law enforcement organizations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives support this order.
- Tackled gun violence. President Biden is implementing his comprehensive strategy to reduce gun crime. The Biden Administration has taken more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other president at this point in their Administration, including by reining in the proliferation of ghost guns and cracking down on gun traffickers and rogue gun dealers. The President was the first president in nearly 30 years to bring together Members of Congress from both parties to take action on gun violence, signing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The President also secured Senate confirmation of career prosecutor Steve Dettelbach to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, empowering this law enforcement agency with its first confirmed leader since 2015.
- Investing in community-led crime prevention and intervention. States and cities across the country have used ARP funding to invest in public safety strategies such as summer jobs for young adults and substance use and mental health services. Through the bipartisan budget deal and the Bipartisan Safer communities Act, the President has secured $300 million to expand community violence interventions. The Biden Administration has also made changes to 26 different federal programs to direct additional funding to evidence-based violence interventions. And, the Department of Labor is investing in job programs to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities.
The President believes we can and must do more to reduce crime and save lives. Today, President Biden is building on this progress with his Safer America Plan. President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget requests a fully paid-for new investment of approximately $35 billion to support law enforcement and crime prevention – in addition to the President’s $2 billion discretionary request for these same programs. The plan he is releasing today outlines, for the first time, how this $37 billion will be used to save lives and make communities safer.
Specifically, the Safer America Plan:
- Funds the police and promotes effective prosecution of crimes affecting families today. The Safer America Plan will provide communities the resources they need to keep our streets safe, including by helping them hire and train 100,000 additional police officers for accountable community policing (nearly $13 billion over the next five years through the COPS Hiring Program) and setting aside dedicated funds for small law enforcement agencies. At the same time, this plan will invest nearly $3 billion to help communities clear court backlogs and solve murders so we can take shooters and other violent criminals off the streets, including by helping communities set up task forces to share intelligence to bring down the gun violence rate. The plan also aims to crack down on other serious crimes affecting families today. The plan will impose tougher penalties for fentanyl trafficking. To tackle organized retail theft, the plan calls on Congress to pass legislation to require online marketplaces, like Amazon, to verify third-party sellers’ information, and to impose liability on online marketplaces for the sale of stolen goods on their platforms.
- Invests in crime prevention and a fairer criminal justice system. The Safer America Plan will invest in services that address the causes of crime and reduce the burdens on police so they can focus on violent crime, including mental health and substance use disorder services; crisis responders, violence interrupters, and social workers; and expanding access to job training, education, housing, and other supportive services that prevent crime and advance equity. The Plan establishes a new $15 billion grant program called Accelerating Justice System Reform that cities and states can use over the next 10 years to advance strategies that will: (1) prevent violent crime and/or (2) ease the burden on police officers by identifying non-violent situations that may merit a public health response or other response. It also invests an additional $5 billion in evidence-based community violence intervention programs. The plan proposes to end the crack-powder disparity, making the fix retroactive. The plan will help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter society, including by lifting nearly all restrictions on eligibility and access to vital federal benefits and programs that people need to get back on their feet after leaving incarceration.
- Takes additional commonsense steps on guns to keep dangerous firearms out of dangerous hands. The President has already proposed to increase funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) by 13% so ATF can hire new agents and investigators to help cities trace firearms and analyze ballistics from crime scenes. The President will also continue to call on Congress to take additional actions on guns, including requiring background checks for all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, closing the dating violence restraining order loophole, and banning the manufacture, sale, or possession of unserialized “ghost guns.”