By: AVERI HARPER, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — In his first interview as the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden refuted President Donald Trump’s claim that he wants to “defund the police” and argued that Trump supports cutting programs that would help fund local police departments.
“President Trump says that you want to defund the police. Do you?” asked Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts in an interview conducted Friday in Wilmington, Delaware.
“No I don’t,” Biden said, laughing.
Biden said that while he doesn’t want to “defund the police,” he does want to eliminate misconduct and discriminatory practices.
“I don’t want to defund police departments. I think they need more help, they need more assistance, but that, look, there are unethical senators, there are unethical presidents, there are unethical doctors, unethical lawyers, unethical prosecutors, there are unethical cops. They should be rooted out,” Biden later added.
“By the way, he proposes cutting a half a billion dollars of local police support,” Biden added, seemingly referring to the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to a federal program that helps hire more local law enforcement officers.
The exchange was part of a wide-ranging interview with Roberts conducted alongside Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate and the first woman of color on a major party’s presidential ticket.
Biden highlighted his proposed plans for police reform. He called for national standards for “every police department in the country,” making police misconduct records more readily available and eliminating perceived conflicts of interest by moving police misconduct cases out of jurisdiction to prevent prosecutors who regularly work with police officers from trying misconduct cases for those same officers.
Biden briefly discussed his role in the controversial 1994 crime bill, which has been criticized as a driver of mass incarceration. He framed it as an effort to strengthen community policing.
“Everybody forgets a third of that bill that I wrote was to put more cops in the street, not in their automobiles, but getting out and knowing the community — knowing who owns the local grocery store, knowing everybody in the community, and crime will drop,” said Biden.
Biden also called for more resources for social services to support police.
“We have to make it clear that this is about protecting neighborhoods, protecting people, everybody across the board,” he said. “So the only guy that actually put in a bill to actually defund the police is Donald Trump.”
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