Many in New York City law enforcement were convinced that President Joe Biden’s sit-down on February 4 with Mayor Eric Adams, Governor Kathy Hochul, and a coterie of high-ranking cops was little more than a photo op. Now we know our instincts were correct. It wasn’t quite a photo op, but it was a great talking point during Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
Moving to distance himself from progressive Democrats still hoping to defund the police, Biden mentioned Jason Rivera, 22, and Wilbert Mora, 27, the NYPD officers killed while responding to a 911 call placed by a mother fearful of her adult son—who then opened fire. With the Hispanic vote in parts of the country seeming to trend Republican, the president made sure to note that the officers were Dominican-Americans who grew up on the streets they were policing.
Seemingly as an answer to their senseless death by stolen gun, Biden promised to invest in crime prevention and community police officers. There was no need to choose between safety and equal justice, the president said, calling for Americans to protect our communities, restore trust, and hold law enforcement accountable. Achieving accountability, Biden said, was why the Justice Department was requiring body cameras, banning chokeholds, and restricting no-knock warrants for its federal officers. He didn’t mention that almost no federal officers under DOJ jurisdiction “walk a beat” or work in neighborhoods that they know. Nor did he make any mention of the most important task: holding criminals accountable.
The Associated Press reported that “no applause was as loud or in unison as when the president said: ‘The answer is not to defund the police.’” PBS NewsHour noted Biden’s request to “fund [the police] with resources and training.”
Even these hollow words were too much for members of the progressive “Squad,” however. According to the New York Times, the only member of Congress who did not applaud and who remained seated during the president’s crime-prevention spiel was Cori Bush of Missouri, though, according to National Review, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar also stayed in her seat. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who delivered her own version of a State of the Union address on behalf of the Working Families Party, was also loath to comment about the police. So, too, of course, was Squad leader Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
If New York’s cops and the city’s Dominican community in Washington Heights feel used, one can understand why.
Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images