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Investing in police important to rebuild community trust, Cedric Richmond says

To discuss President Joe Biden's push to curb rising violent crime, and how investing in police will help achieve that end, Judy Woodruff is joined by Cedric Richmond. Richmond is a senior advisor to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    We turn to the White House and the president's push to curb rising violent crime.

    I'm joined by Cedric Richmond. He is a senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

    Cedric Richmond, welcome back to the "NewsHour."

    Why does this set of proposals — it's an ambitious set of ideas the president has put out here — why is that going to make a difference in rising violent crime?

  • Cedric Richmond, Senior Presidential Adviser:

    Well, it's a comprehensive strategy to deal with gun violence and violent crime in our neighborhoods.

    We see that it's a 30 percent strike since the last 18 months, when the pandemic started. And so what we're going to do is really, really wrap around. So, we're going to start with ATF, making sure that they're working with local police departments to set up task forces to trace and track guns, make sure that we're looking at the gun dealers that are selling guns to people who they know should not have them or that are reselling guns.

    The attorney general announced a zero tolerance policy there. We're also going to put money in cities, so that they can hire more police officers, so they can invest in technology, like gun detection programs, cameras, they can invest in mental health, substance abuse.

    And then we're going to put some money into really try to prevent people from going that route in the first place. So cities will be able to invest in summer jobs programs for their youth, invest in their recreation departments, their education departments.

    And then the last thing we will do is make sure that we have been invested in the Department of Labor, putting money out there, so we can train and help educate formerly incarcerated people who are leaving incarceration, so that they can get jobs.

    And we're urging businesses and others to hire them. So we think that this comprehensive strategy — and one of the most important parts of the strategy is investing in community violence intervention. And that's people who go in the community, go into the communities where the crimes are happening, where the victims are located, and make sure that they are dealing with retaliation, conflict resolution and making sure that they identify, because those are the trusted voices in the community.

    And we know that that reduces crime.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Is it fair to say that guns, though, is the centerpiece of these proposals?

  • Cedric Richmond:

    Guns is one facet of it.

    But guns are — it's a big problem in our communities, and the violence and the carnage that's caused by it is a big concern. And we have seen the videos out there so far. And we're anticipating, because, in the past, you see a spike in the crime in the summer months, when kids out of school, the heat rises.

    And we want to make sure we get in front of that. And we want to stop the proliferation of guns all across our streets and in our communities.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We have talked with some activists who were out there who have seen what's happened, especially to young Black and brown men and women in this country at the hands of police.

    They're looking at this. They like some of it. But they're also concerned that more money to police could lead to beefing the police up in a way that's just going to stoke some of the bad — some of the worst instincts that are there. How do you respond to them?

  • Cedric Richmond:

    President Biden has always been consistent, that he does not believe in defunding the police, that he believes in investing in law enforcement and making sure that it's real community policing, where they get out of the police car, where they get to know the people in the community, and you rebuild that trust between the community and the police that police those communities.

    And we think that that is an important avenue to fight crime. And so the president has been consistent on it. That's his position. And we think that it's going to have a very beneficial effect to keeping communities safer, reducing the trauma in those communities, and, more importantly, protecting and saving lives.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    How will the administration monitor that money that goes to police, though?

    Is there a way you can ensure that it won't be used mainly to target communities of color? How do you keep an eye on that?

  • Cedric Richmond:

    Well, that's what the Justice Department is there to do.

    And, again, this money will be ARP money, American Rescue Plan money, that has been sent to the cities in the states so far to help them with their budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic. And so a lot of municipalities had to either lay off police officers, cut overtime, and all of those things.

    And, at the end of the day, this is about public safety, protecting lives, protecting property. And we believe that the police can do this in a constitutional manner and in a community-oriented policing, which the president envisions.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Cedric Richmond, we know that these are problems you have described for us in the last few minutes, they have been with this country for very — a very long time.

    What makes you confident that now is the moment when this administration or anybody can make a difference?

  • Cedric Richmond:

    Because I think it's a comprehensive approach.

    I think it's utilizing community violence intervention programs and interveners. That's never been funded to the extent that we're going to fund it, and that we're going to encourage people to do it, also investing in technology, so that — for example, one of the police officers talking about their ability to share information and work with ATF, they were able to monitor social media, and they could identify conflicts before the people actually met and had the altercation or other incidents.

    And so we believe that, through technology, through community violence intervention, through supportive programs, substance abuse, mental health treatment, all of those things, we believe, create a way that we can put our hands completely around this issue, and start to deal with it once and for all.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And just one other thing.

    We saw a report late today, Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, who has been very involved in negotiations over police reform legislation, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, he's saying today that they look like — it looks like they're close to an agreement.

    How much difference will it make if that legislation is passed?

  • Cedric Richmond:

    Well, we need it to pass.

    One, we need to build trust between the police, the communities that they police. But, two, we need to have accountability and transparency in our policing. We know that the overwhelming majority of police out there sacrifice to make sure that our communities are safe, and that they do a good job.

    But for those that are not good police officers, we have to have a way to hold them accountable and be transparent about it. And so I think that it is very important. I hope the senator is right. And I think that it can only help between — trust between police and communities.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Cedric Richmond, senior adviser to President Biden, thank you very much for talking with us.

  • Cedric Richmond:

    Thank you.

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