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President Joe Biden does not want to defund the police. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist said he does not support it, either.
Crist supported a police department's plan in St. Petersburg, Florida, to hire social workers to respond to nonviolent calls to the police. This unit works within the police department, and the department's budget increased.
The morning after U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist clinched the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, the Republican Party of Florida aired an ad bashing his support of President Joe Biden.
"Charlie Crist thinks Joe Biden is the best president of his lifetime," the Aug. 24 campaign ad said. "Crist even supports Biden's agenda to defund the police."
The ad borrowed rhetoric from former President Donald Trump, who used the phrase "defund the police" to portray Biden as weak on crime ahead of the 2020 election.
Calls for defunding the police followed the 2020 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Although some people who use the phrase want to eliminate police departments entirely, others want to reexamine the functions of police departments and redirect some of their funding to social services.
Not unlike Trump's previous attack on Biden, the ad is misleading on several fronts. Biden does not have a "defund the police" agenda for Crist to share, and Crist is also against the notion.
The Republican Party of Florida did not respond to PolitiFact's request for comment.
Biden has clearly said he opposes defunding the police. He told CBS on June 8, 2020: "I don't support defunding the police. I support conditioning federal aid to police, based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness."
Biden repeated that stance in an interview with KDKA-TV's Jon Delano two months later: "I not only don't want to defund the police, I want to add $300 (million) to their budget."
The Republicans' ad cited remarks Biden, as president, made about police reform negotiations on Sept. 22, 2021. Nowhere in the speech does Biden mention "defund the police."
Biden spoke of H.R. 1280, or the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which faced opposition from Republicans and ultimately died in the U.S. Senate. Crist voted for the measure in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Critics of the bill said that it would effectively "defund the police" by forcing them to divert funding to training on racial profiling and the duty to intervene when another officer is using excessive force. It also would have required agencies to record data related to law enforcement practices, including traffic stops and the use of deadly force.
The bill itself did not call for "defunding" law enforcement. Still, the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost intergovernmental agencies "several hundred million dollars annually" to implement the training and reporting requirements.
The bill would have offered grants to assist state, local and tribal police departments with buying technology and training.
It did not call for reallocating money from law enforcement agencies toward social services, which is usually what supporters of the "defund the police" concept say they mean with the phrase.
In a March 2022 interview, Crist said he did not support the concept.
"I don't support defunding the police," Crist said. "I support offering all the necessary funding and resources needed to ensure police officers undergo the proper training and screenings that will weed out bad actors."
The Florida GOP ad included a brief clip of Crist saying, "It's reallocation." The footage comes from a virtual meeting between Crist and community organizers in St. Petersburg, Florida, on May 3, 2022.
Police chief Anthony Holloway announced a plan July 9, 2020, to create a unit of social and mental health workers to respond to nonviolent calls made to the police department.
St. Petersburg received a $3.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice in 2020 to hire more police officers. The city then matched the federal grant with $3.8 million. Holloway said he initially offered to hold off on hiring and use the matching funds to launch the program for nonviolent calls.
One of the organizers during the May 2022 meeting asked Crist whether he supported Holloway's plan to redirect the matching funds to the program for nonviolent calls.
"I support exactly what the chief is doing," Crist said. "And it isn't defunding, you're correct about that. It's reallocation and making a balance to the approach."
The Republican Party's website frames Holloway's plan as an example of "defunding police."
Holloway's plan did not aim to redirect funding outside St. Petersburg's police department. The program for nonviolent calls is managed, dispatched and funded by the department.
The city ultimately decided to use the federal grant money to both hire more officers and provide funding for the program. Holloway also told PolitiFact that the department's budget increased because of the program.
When we asked Crist's campaign about the ad, a staffer pointed to Crist's comments against "defunding the police," and a $314,000 grant that Crist helped secure for a police department in Largo, Florida, to purchase body cameras.
The ad said Crist "supported Biden's agenda to defund the police."
Biden does not want to cut police funding, nor does he have such an agenda for Crist to support. The ad included a footnote citing remarks Biden made about police reform negotiations on Sept. 22, 2021.
Biden spoke of H.R. 1280, or the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which died in the U.S. Senate. Crist did vote for the measure, but it did not aim to "defund the police."
The ad included an interview where Crist said he supported a plan in St. Petersburg to hire a unit of social workers to respond to nonviolent calls. The city's police department said the move ultimately increased their budget.
Neither Biden nor Crist supports defunding the police. We rate the ad's claim False.
Email interview with Sam Ramirez, Crist's press secretary, Aug. 26, 2022
Email interview with Delanie Bomar, DeSantis campaign spokesperson, Aug. 26, 2022
Email interview with Anthony Holloway, St. Petersburg's chief of police, Aug. 25, 2022
Orlando Sentinel, Charlie Crist regrets some past decisions, July 14, 2022
Republican Party of Florida, 87,000, Aug. 24, 2022
CBS News, "CBS Evening News," June 9, 2020
PolitiFact, Joe Biden says he doesn't want to defund police, June 9, 2020
PolitiFact, Pence takes Biden's remarks on police funding out of context, July 10, 2020
PolitiFact, No, Joe Biden will not 'abolish' police or prisons, July 19, 2020
PolitiFact, Super PAC attacks Biden in misleading 'defund the police' ad, July 29, 2020
PolitiFact, No, Joe Biden isn't 'on board with defunding police,' Aug. 5, 2020
PolitiFact, Donald Trump "proposes cutting a half a billion dollars of local police support," Aug. 25, 2020
Youtube, KDKA's Jon Delano Interviews Former VP Joe Biden, Aug. 31, 2020
White House, Statement on Police Reform Negotiations, Sept. 22, 2021
Congress.gov, H.R. 1280, assessed Aug. 25, 2022
U.S. House of Representatives, Roll Call 60, March 3, 2021
Kevin McCarthy, tweet, March 3, 2021
Congressional Budget Office, H.R. 1280, assessed Aug. 25, 2022
Our Tallahassee, Charlie Crist talks Criminal Justice Reform, March 29, 2022
U.S. Rep Charlie Crist, Crist calls for Supporting and Reforming Police, March 3, 2021
Florida Politics, Charlie Crist signals moderate position on police reform, June 9, 2021
Florida GOP, New RPOF Ad Spotlights Charlie Crist's 100% Lockstep Voting Record with Joe Biden's Destructive Policy Agenda, Aug. 24, 2022
Florida GOP, Charlie Crist's Radical Pro-Crime Agenda, assessed Aug. 25, 2022
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