Joe Biden Doesn't Believe Police Should Be Defunded, Focuses on Non-Armed Officers to "De-Escalate Things"

Trevor Noah - Joe Biden - Getty - Split - H 2020
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Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared virtually on The Daily Show on Wednesday, speaking with host Trevor Noah about how the police force should be handled in America in the wake of the recent killing of George Floyd, as well as Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

"You know, many activists and organizers have come out saying there have been repeated attempts to reform many police departments," said Noah in a video clip from the show. "Were it not for civilian cameras, we wouldn't know the truth sometimes." He went on to say that there have been three instances in the past few weeks of major police departments "being contradicted by video evidence that comes out."

Noah asked Biden, if he were to become president, if he thinks there would be a world where "defunding the police would be the solution," giving the example of responsibilities for schools, places treating mental illnesses, and the homeless community potentially being taken away from police forces.

Biden responded by saying that he believes changes can be introduced without having to defund the police completely.  "Here's what I think's happening," said the former vice president. "You have well over 80 percent of the American people going, 'Whoa, I didn't know this. I didn't know this was happening.' I don't believe police should be defunded, but I think that conditions should be placed upon them where departments are having to take significant reform. We should set up a national use of force standard. If they don't sign on to it, then in fact they don't get any of the federal money."

He continued, "In addition, that they have to demonstrate that they release all the data that relates to misconduct by police, that all has to be sent to the justice department. If they don't send it to the justice department nationally, they don't get funded."

Referencing mental illness, drug abuse and homelessness, Biden said that he believes many changes can be made. "For example, my daughter is a social worker, she has her masters in social work. The idea that she's going to respond by herself to a 911 call that says that someone is overdosing or someone has a mental problem and they're acting out, the idea of going by themselves is not rational. Conversely, cops shouldn't go alone. Cops should go with people who are mental health experts."

Noah asked whether he sees an opportunity to have a trained individual who is not a policeman in these environments. "At mental institutions, for instance, you know it's not police who are helping these people, it's people who are trained in defusing these situations."

Forceful tactics are still used in those institutions, explained Biden. "They put them in straitjackets, they have big guys come in and hold somebody down. It's not just somebody walking in and saying, 'Here, look, you've got to calm down, I know how to deal with you.' It's not that simple. But that should be the objective."

He emphasized that police should be put second in those circumstances, and not first. "For example, we should change the way we deal with all drug abuse," Biden said. "Nobody should be going to jail for the use of drugs, they should be going to mandatory rehabilitation. We should be building rehab centers, not more prisons."

Closing the segment, Biden emphasized the importance of building trust between law enforcement and communities to increase safety, and to invest in the funding of community police. "When we were funding community policing, the crime rate went down and the extent of brutality went down, too, because people know who's in the community. But it's much bigger than that, it's complicated. But 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."

View the clip below.