Former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly argued on Sunday that “money is not the answer to the immediate problem” plaguing police departments across the country and stressed the focus should be on improving morale.
Kelly made the argument on “Fox News Live” reacting to statements made by President Biden during an event at the New York Police Department on Thursday. At the event the president said “the answer is not to defund the police,” but instead, to provide the tools and funding for law enforcement officials to be “partners” and “protectors” in the community.
The president and Attorney General Merrick Garland met with fellow Democrats New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul at the NYPD headquarters Thursday to discuss ways federal, state and local law enforcement officials can work together to quickly take shooters off the streets and combat gun violence.
The president’s trip to New York City on Thursday came after thousands of uniformed police officers from across the nation traveled to Manhattan to pay their respects to fallen NYPD Detectives Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, who were shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence call last month.
“The answer is not to defund the police. It is to give you the tools, the training, the funding to be partners, to be protectors,” Biden said on Thursday.
“We’re about funding and providing the additional services you need beyond someone with a gun strapped to their shoulder,” the president added. “We need more social workers, mental health workers. We need more people who, when you’re called on these scenes and someone is about to jump off a roof, it’s not just someone standing with a weapon – it is someone who also knows how to talk to people, talk them down.”
Kelly argued on Sunday that cities are “awashed with money now” as a result of “COVID funding” and that police departments “don’t need more money.”
“I think one of the problems is that a lot of cops have voted with their feet,” the former police commissioner continued.
Violent crime is skyrocketing across the country and law enforcement officers are retiring in droves, following a trend seen after violent protests in June of 2020.
Kelly pointed to the mass retirements and resignations and noted that departments “are having a difficult time hiring [and] recruiting.”
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“It’s not an issue of money, it’s an issue of morale, an issue of the restraints and the restrictions that have been put on cops after the George Floyd killing,” Kelly went on to stress.
Floyd, a Black man, died in May 2020 after Derek Chauvin, a White Minneapolis police officer, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck. Chauvin was convicted of third-degree murder, second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter; he and three other officers were fired from the force after video of Floyd’s death emerged.
Floyd’s death sparked protests and sometimes violent demonstrations in cities across the country, as well as calls to slash police budgets amid a push for law enforcement reform.
The Biden administration on Thursday morning rolled out a strategy to stop the flow of guns, bolster law enforcement and increase funding for community policing, which Biden elaborated on during remarks at the NYPD HQ.
Senior administration officials said the strategy builds on steps the president announced in June 2021, which were intended to stem the flow of firearms used to commit violence; support local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to address violent crime; invest in evidence-based community violence interventions, expanded summer programming, employment opportunities and other services and support for teenagers and young adults; and provide help for formerly incarcerated individuals to “successfully reenter their communities.”
On Sunday, Kelly argued that police officers, captains and commanders of precincts “are always communicating with the community.”
He acknowledged that there is still some “distrust” and noted that “it’s something that has to be worked on every day, but it is in fact being done every day.”
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Kelly stressed that police have “to keep working at it” as “it’s not going to change overnight.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Brie Stimon contributed to this report.