- Democratic Presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden said he supported police reform as opposed to defunding the police in an interview on “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah.
- However, he also called for turning over “as we can to non-armed police officers.”
- According to CNN Biden was a “staunch ally” to police unions while he was a senator.
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Former Vice President Joe Biden doubled down on his position against calls to defund the police in an interview on “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah on Wednesday.
However, by the end of the interview, Biden had called for less forceful interventions when it came to several community issues.
“I think we should turn over as much as we can to non-armed police officers to de-escalate things related to mental illness, homelessness, and drug abuse,” Biden told Noah.
While Biden has called for more police accountability and reform, he’s fallen short of calling for the defunding of police departments, which many protesters and activists are calling for after the death of George Floyd, when a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
“Well I think there are a lot of changes they can take place, period, without having to defund the police completely,” Biden told Noah.
On Sunday, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza explained on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that defunding the police means a realignment of society’s priorities by way of funding and responsibilities in the community.
“When we talk about defunding the police, what we’re saying is ‘invest in the resources that our communities need,'” she said
Noah had pointed out that cameras have captured injustices committed by police and some police departments have made claims that were later disproved by videos.
“I don’t think the police should be defunded,” Biden said. “But I think that conditions should be placed upon them where departments are having to take significant reforms.”
The Democratic presidential candidate suggested implementing a “national use of force standard” and departments must sign on to it and send misconduct reports to the Justice Department in order to get federal funding.
He also told Noah that if police unions that don’t change, their departments won’t get funding. Biden advocated for implementing laws where officers that get complaints for breaking the law or for violent crimes won’t be tried by their own district but by one further away and that cops are able to be fired.
“You’ve got to be able to root out bad cops,” Biden said.
He added: “We’re going to change the way in which we hold police departments accountable.”
CNN reported that for 15 years as a senator, Biden was a “staunch ally of police unions and the rank-and-file officers they represented.” While in the Senate, Biden was one of the chief proponents of a Police Officer’s Bill of Rights measure, which supporters said would “provided a necessary and uniform set of protections for police officers in the face of internal investigations.”
While it was backed by police unions, groups like the National Association of Police Chiefs, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police opposed it.
“As Joe Biden underscored when he held his very first rally of this campaign in a Pittsburgh union hall, he has spent his career fighting for workers’ right to unionize and for fundamental workplace rules with respect to any profession. That’s what this effort, backed by (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and a host of Democratic congressional leaders ranging from then-Representative Sherrod Brown to Representative Jim Clyburn to then-Representative Chuck Schumer, was all about,” Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for Biden’s campaign, told CNN.
Biden also told Noah that he thought mental health professionals should accompany police officers when responding to crisis calls and added that his daughter is a social worker, and he doesn’t see it fitting that she in her role be the one to respond to a crisis call.
Noah asked Biden if he thought there was an opportunity to change the response to community issues like mental illness.
“Do you not think though, there is an opportunity to have somebody that’s not a policeman because you know the old adage, ‘if you’re a hammer, then everything is a nail,'” Noah said.
Biden doubled down and said that even in mental institutions force is used when someone gets “out of hand.”
“No, but they are, though. They also use force in those mental institutions when someone’s out of hand. They put them in straitjackets.”
He added: “It’s not that simple,” Biden said. “But that should be the objective. We should put the police second in those circumstances and not first.”