CLAIM: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wants to defund the police.
VERDICT: MOSTLY TRUE. Biden formally opposes demands to “defund the police,” but backs “re-directing” funding from police to other priorities, which is the same thing.
Vice President Mike Pence attacked Biden in his speech to the Republican National Convention (RNC) Wednesday night:
Joe Biden says America is systemically racist. And that law enforcement in America has a, quote, “implicit bias” against minorities.
And when asked whether he’d support cutting funding to law enforcement, and he replied, “Yes, absolutely.”
Joe Biden would double down on the very policies that are leading to unsafe streets and violence in America’s cities.
The hard truth is… you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America. Under President Trump, we will stand with those who stand on the Thin Blue Line, and we’re not going to defund the police – not now, not ever.
Breitbart News handled the question of Biden’s position on “defund the police” in a previous fact check:
While Biden has said he does not want to “defund the police,” he has also said, as The Hill notes, that he wants to “re-direct” funding from policing to other priorities, like mental health, which some on the left have argued will be more effective in preventing crime.
This is also what some activists have tried to explain “defund the police” actually means.
The Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank, explained last month: “‘Defund the police’ means reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality. That’s it. It’s that simple.”
So when Biden claims he wants to re-direct police funding, that is what “defund the police” means to many Democrats.
We can see that the two ideas are actually equivalent by examining the prominent example of the Los Angeles Police Department. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in June — in the middle of a riot — that the city would be cutting the police budget by $150 million, more than 10% of the total. That money was to be put toward $250 million of spending within “communities of color.”
By investing in those communities, Garcetti said, the need for police would be reduced.
Garcetti was “re-directing” funding. But from the point of view of the LAPD, that is the same as “defunding” the police.
Pence specifically quoted an answer Biden gave to a question by Ady Barkan in an interview in June. Barkan asked: “Can we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?” Biden replied: “Yes, absolutely.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.