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Biden to travel to New York City to talk about gun violence with Mayor Adams

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Biden is traveling to New York City today, where he will meet Mayor Eric Adams at the New York Police Department headquarters. He's going to talk about gun violence and crime and show support for law enforcement. This as the White House works on a new executive order on policing reforms. NPR White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe will be with the president on that trip. Good morning.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: Hey, it's the president's first time meeting the new mayor of the nation's largest city. What's the significance of this?

RASCOE: Well, President Biden is going to meet with Mayor Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul at NYPD's headquarters for a daily meeting that's held in the city focused on combating gun violence. After that, they're supposed to head to a public school to talk about community violence intervention programs. Biden is taking this trip as FBI data shows the number of murders has soared during the pandemic.

INSKEEP: Yeah.

RASCOE: And most of them involve guns. This is a really big issue in New York City and other major cities. Two young police officers were killed in New York after a shooting there last month. Adams is a former police officer and has urged the federal government to stop the flow of guns. Attorney General Merrick Garland will also be on the trip. The Justice Department is announcing a crackdown on gun trafficking into New York and other East Coast cities, as well as working to bring more cases against people for using ghost guns in crimes. Those are the ones without serial numbers or might be homemade. But they also want to talk about community violence intervention programs, things that can help prevent crime. The administration wants more money from Congress for these types of programs and for community policing.

INSKEEP: So I want to place these two Democrats properly. Neither of them has been with the super progressive position on policing. Neither of them is a defund-the-police person. In fact, Eric Adams is a former cop who has said he wants to be tough on crime. President Biden has said he favors police reform. How much has he been able to do there?

RASCOE: Well, Biden has thrown his support behind the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but that stalled in Congress. The administration says it's not at odds to call for more funding for police and at the same time want police reforms. They argue that Biden wants accountable police officers connected to the communities they serve. The White House has been talking to people who have been victims of police brutality. I spoke with Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the family of George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis. Crump said Biden can do a lot via executive order, like setting up a federal database, tracking police shootings and police officers guilty of using excessive force. Here's more from Crump.

BENJAMIN CRUMP: If they want to do it, the federal government could do it. They have enough money and resources to make that database happen. This is a matter of if they want to do it, and once they've made that decision, it's going to be done.

RASCOE: Crump says that he feels the administration is serious about listening to victims.

INSKEEP: The politics here is interesting, Ayesha, because we may focus a lot on Russia and Ukraine or a lot of other issues, but crime is something that is affecting people - voters - directly.

RASCOE: Yeah, and violent crime is an area where the Biden administration has been facing criticism because it's up. It was rising before his administration, but it is up at - with him in the White House, and so he's facing questions of what he's going to do to address this. This trip is a way to show that he is taking action to address those concerns, to say we hear you. We're doing something.

INSKEEP: Ayesha, thanks for the update.

RASCOE: Thank you.

INSKEEP: NPR's Ayesha Rascoe.

(SOUNDBITE OF MATTHEW HALSALL'S "THE END OF DUKKHA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin
Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Ayesha Rascoe
Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.