The Fraternal Order of Police, America’s largest police union, harshly criticized Jen Psaki on Monday after the White House press secretary mocked Fox News’s coverage of rising crime rates and questioned the validity of discussing “soft-on-crime consequences.”
“I think it’s wrong—very wrong—for Ms. Psaki to suggest that violent crime in our country is of no concern or to just laugh it off,” President of the Fraternal Order of Police Patrick Yoes said in a statement on Monday.
“She may feel safe in the White House, one of the most protected buildings in the United States, but not everyone feels safe in their workplace,” Yoes continued. “The world we find ourselves in is dangerous and is becoming increasingly more so. Tens of thousands of people have been the victims of crime this month alone and some of them never made it back home.”
Psaki made the comments last week in an appearance on the podcast Pod Save America, criticizing Fox News for covering crime while other news outlets reported on other stories.
“And then on Fox is Jeanine Pirro talking about ‘soft-on-crime consequences.’ I mean, what does that even mean, right? So there’s an alternate universe on some coverage. What’s scary about it is a lot of people watch that,” Psaki said.
Psaki went on to say that Republicans “voted against funding for local cops programs” by voting against the American Rescue Plan, a claim she repeated on Monday.
“In the American Rescue Plan, there was additional funding to support local cops programs, something that every single Republican voted against,” Psaki said during a White House press conference Monday. “I said in that interview that I know they don’t like it when we call that out. I’m going to keep calling that out because that’s a fact.”
The Washington Post Fact Checker gave that claim “three pinocchios” last summer, pointing out that the $350 million in state and local aid allotted by the American Rescue Plan was earmarked for a “variety of budget-plugging purposes” and “lawmakers had no guarantee that police would get a slice of the pie.”
Psaki also said Monday that Biden has increased funding for the COPS Hiring Program, which provides funds to law enforcement agencies to hire more officers.
The president has resisted calls from the progressive wing of his party to defund police departments.
“We shouldn’t be cutting funding for police departments,” Biden said at the U.S. Conference of Mayors earlier this month. “I proposed increasing funding.”
Crime did surge at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and has continued going up during Biden’s time in office.
At least 16 cities across the United States set records for murders in 2021.
A Council on Criminal Justice study this month found that across 22 major U.S. cities, murders rose 5%, gun assaults increased 8%, aggravated assaults increased 4%, and domestic violence incidents increased 4% last year.
Americans’ concerns about crime have gone up with crime rates.
According to a Fox Business poll last month, 77% of registered voters said they are “extremely” or “very” concerned about higher crime rates, the second most pressing issue for Americans after inflation.
Yoes, the Fraternal Order of Police president, put some blame for rising crime rates on “agenda-driven prosecutors who have gone rogue.”
“Many of them are refusing to bring charges against so-called ‘low-level’ or ‘nonviolent’ offenders,” Yoes said. “Under their leadership, which has been abhorrent in many cases, many violent offenders don’t stay in jail—they’re back on the streets and free to commit more crimes.”
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin ran on a platform of not prosecuting “quality of life crimes” and other lower-level offenses. He is now facing a recall election this summer as crime surged in San Francisco last year, including a 16.7% rise in homicides and a 22.7% rise in larceny thefts, according to police data.
In southern California, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon is also facing an upcoming recall election. There were nearly 400 homicides in the city in 2021, making it the deadliest year since 2007.
New York City‘s Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg issued a memo at the beginning of the year directing prosecutors to seek alternatives to incarceration except for “very serious cases.” He walked that memo back after coming under criticism, saying that it gave “the wrong impression” about his plans.
Fox News’s Stephanie Pagones, Michael Ruiz, and Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.