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Biden Says He Favors Police Reforms, Not Defunding

FILE - Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during an event in Dover, Delaware, June 5, 2020.

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden supports the “urgent need for reform” of police agencies in the country, but not their defunding, Biden’s campaign said Monday.

Biden, running in the November national election against President Donald Trump, “does not believe that police should be defunded,” campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement. Rather, he said, Biden “hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change.”

Trump, a Republican, claimed Sunday on Twitter that his Democratic challenger and “Radical Left Democrats want to ‘DEFUND THE POLICE’” while he wants “great and well paid LAW ENFORCEMENT. I want LAW & ORDER!”

Some civil rights activists are advocating the defunding of police agencies in the aftermath of the death two weeks ago of a black man, George Floyd, while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Minneapolis City Council has voted to defund the police department there, while the mayors of the country’s two biggest cities, New York and Los Angeles, say they plan to divert millions of dollars in funding from their police departments to community programs to improve the lives of impoverished people.

The campaign spokesman said Biden believes funding is necessary to improve policing, including “community policing programs that improve relationships between officers and residents.

“This funding would also go towards diversifying police departments so that they resemble the communities in which they serve,” Bates said. “We also need additional funding for body-worn cameras.”

The Biden campaign last year released a criminal justice plan calling for a $300 million investment in what it called a COPS program (Community Oriented Policing Services).

Biden has also called for Congress to ban police from using chokeholds to restrain criminal suspects, one provision of an overhaul of policing practices proposed Monday by congressional Democrats.

Trump’s reelection campaign held a conference call with reporters Monday in which it contended that Biden, by not speaking out on defunding police agencies, implicitly endorsed the policy.

“Where has Joe Biden been?” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said shortly before the Biden campaign released its statement. “By his silence, he is endorsing chaos and anarchy and lawlessness.”