At a White House press briefing this week, Biden administration press secretary Jen Psaki schooled Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy after he questioned the Biden team’s supposed alignment with calls to defund the police. In fact, as Psaki laid it out, the president opposes these calls and has advocated for increased police funding, specifically via additional money for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office at the Department of Justice. That office, its website explains, “awards grants to hire community policing professionals, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement.”
The office has provided billions of dollars in grant money through the course of its existence. It’s Republicans — members of the party that has taken up support for law enforcement as a rally cry — who have opposed increased funding for the COPS office. So-called community policing, which the program promotes, involves collaborations on relevant issues between police departments and the communities in which they operate, as the COPS website adds.
At the White House, Doocy — who just about always seems smug — questioned Psaki over past comments from Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta in favor of changing levels of funding for police departments. Psaki replied by noting — as, she observed, Fox News themselves had reported — that Gupta’s nomination for her current Justice Department position received support from law enforcement agencies. Meanwhile, it’s remarkable that conservatives like Doocy hesitate to examine the complicated issue of police funding through a more nuanced frame of reference than more money=good and less money=bad. Ignorance and an apparent refusal to more closely examine the issues win again when it comes to Republican talking points.
Addressing Doocy, Psaki added as follows:
‘[Biden] did not run on defunding the police. He’s always opposed defunding the police. I’ll also note, because you’ve asked this question before, or a few times over the last several days, that when we talk about individuals in Congress and their support for funding or opposition to funding for the police, I think what the American people are most focused on is how people vote, what their record is, which is a public record. And I will note that, while the president ran on and won the most votes of any candidate in history on a platform of boosting funding for law enforcement, after Republicans spent decades trying to cut the COPS program — which again, is public record. We don’t need to undervalue the intelligence of the American people. — the president ran on increasing that funding. It’s in his budget. In President Trump’s budget, he significantly cut that. So that’s a change.’
Watch Psaki’s remarks, in two parts, below:
Psaki uses a Fox News report to respond to Doocy pic.twitter.com/Ml1ucFWF9E
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 2, 2021
.@PressSec: "The president ran on and won the most votes of any candidate in history on the platform of boosting funding for law enforcement, after Republicans spent decades trying to cut the cops program." pic.twitter.com/MzJAQEaxzq
— The Hill (@thehill) July 2, 2021