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Biden suggests more police funding, no jail for drug offenders

U.S. President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., February 16, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden outlined changes he hopes to make to criminal justice and policing in the United States during a town hall Tuesday night, highlighting issues that his administration may tackle after COVID-19 relief.

Asked how United States law enforcement could protect citizens in high crime neighborhoods while training officers to police compassionately, Biden answered “By number one, not defunding the police.”

Some Democrats pushed for reviews of local police budgets after the death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer last summer and diversion of funding to social and mental health services.

Biden told the televised town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that he would put more money into local policing.

“We have to put more money for this to work so we have legitimate community policing, and we are in a situation where we can change the legislation,” he added.

On the campaign trail, Biden promised to invest $300 million in a program that gives grants to hire more diverse officers and trains them to develop less adversarial relationships with communities.

He also reiterated another campaign promise Tuesday, ending jail sentences for drug use alone.

“No one should go to jail for a drug offense. No one should go to jail for the use of a drug, they should go to drug rehabilitation,” he said.

“Every cop, when they get up in the morning and put on that shield, has a right to expect to be able to go home to their family that night,” Biden added. “Conversely, every kid walking across the street wearing a hoodie is not a member of a gang and about to knock somebody off.”

Reporting by Heather Timmons; editing by Richard Pullin

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