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Biden Hails Crime Drop, Pushes for More Reforms 

President Joe Biden speaks about his actions to fight crime and make communities safer in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 28, 2024.
President Joe Biden speaks about his actions to fight crime and make communities safer in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 28, 2024.

President Joe Biden brought law enforcement officials from key swing states into the White House on Wednesday as he touted declines in crime in major cities and pressed Congress for more action on policing and gun control.

“Murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery — all dropped sharply, along with burglary, property crime and theft. And it matters,” Biden said, speaking to a gathering that included law enforcement officials from Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Detroit and Milwaukee.

Data from the nation’s top law enforcement entity, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, show a clear decline in violent crime since 2020.

Detroit Police Chief James White, speaking at the White House on Wednesday, said funding from Biden’s 2021 American Rescue Plan was “a tremendous game changer for Detroit. It's helped us reach these historic lows in crime.”

White said Detroit’s police department has used those funds not just for traditional law enforcement but also to expand the force’s mental health services.

Floyd legislation

Biden on Wednesday also renewed his call for lawmakers to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. That act, named after a Black Minneapolis resident who was killed by a police officer in 2020, aims to increase police accountability, transparency and data collection, and to improve police practices and training.

He also called for further action on gun control, which has been stridently opposed by powerful industry players like the National Rifle Association.

“I’ve taken more executive actions to stop the flow of illegal guns than any other administration in history,” Biden said. “And we beat the NRA when I signed the most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years. And we’re going to finish the job. We’re going to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines next time around because it has to be done.”

On the issue of gun ownership, a Pew Research Center poll found that Americans are split. About one-third of Americans say they own a gun.

Gun safety advocates on Wednesday praised the Biden administration’s moves on gun safety. Monisha Henley, senior vice president of government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, described Biden’s White House as “the strongest gun safety administration in history.”

“Our top priority is getting the Biden-Harris administration to implement the ATF’s lifesaving rule to close deadly loopholes in our background check system as written,” she said in a statement provided to VOA. ATF refers to the federal the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“We plan to work closely with the administration this year as they continue to advance their ambitious gun violence prevention agenda,” Henley said.

But Biden faces harsh criticism over his public safety policies from his main political challenger, Donald Trump. On Wednesday, Trump’s campaign described Biden’s plan as a “pro-crime, anti-police agenda.”

“President Donald Trump stands with police,” the campaign said in a statement. “[Trump] is promising to indemnify all police officers and law enforcement officials throughout the United States."

Biden, on Wednesday, defined the challenge of public safety through a different lens.

“There is no greater responsibility than to ensure the safety of families, children, communities and our nation,” he said.