Democratic nominee Joe Biden would not answer when pressed by President Trump during Tuesday night’s presidential debate about whether he has any backing from law enforcement groups.
Both candidates have the backing of various law enforcement groups, but the Trump campaign has leaned into the endorsements much more as the Biden campaign has dealt with a push from the left to defund police departments.
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“He’s talking about defunding the police. … He has no law enforcement support,” Trump said Tuesday night in Ohio. “Who do you have? Name one group that supports you.”
“That’s not true. … We don’t have time to do anything,” Biden said, sparking a back-and-forth.
“We have time,” Trump insisted.
Fox News Sunday anchor and debate moderator Chris Wallace then turned the discussion toward recent unrest in Portland.
More than 175 current and former law enforcement officers and officials, including former Obama official Janet Napolitano, endorsed Biden for president earlier in September while slamming Trump as a “lawless” president. Groups including Florida’s largest police union and the Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed Trump.
In June, when “defund the police” became a rallying cry for many of the protesters demanding justice for George Floyd, Biden called for police reform but said he did not support defunding police departments.
Biden has said he wants reforms, including more funding for public schools, summer programs and mental health and substance abuse treatment, including a $300 million investment in the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
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Biden has also said he supported conditional funding for police departments in a July video interview with NowThis conducted by progressive activist Ady Barkan.
“If they don’t eliminate chokeholds, they don’t get Byrne grants; if they don’t do the following, they don’t get any help,” he said. “If they don’t do, because you know as well as I do, the vast majority of all police departments are funded by the locality, funded by the municipality, funded by the state. It’s only the federal government comes in on top of that, and so it says you want help, you have to do the following reforms, you have to make sure you have no-knock warrants eliminated, if you have them, you don’t get Byrne grants.”
Byrne grants through the Justice Department are the “leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions,” according to the program’s webpage.
Conservatives have continually called out Biden for saying he supports redirecting funding while dodging being associated with the “defund the police” crowd.
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“That’s Washington speak for defunding,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told “The Story.”
“You know, you can’t really allocate from one bucket without taking from that bucket to put in a different bucket.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.