Biden stands with Philadelphia area police in push for jobs bill

Vice President Biden spoke in support of the American Jobs Act at Houston Hall at Penn.
Vice President Biden spoke in support of the American Jobs Act at Houston Hall at Penn. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 19, 2011

Standing with Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and police officials from around the Philadelphia area, Vice President Biden on Tuesday urged passage of President Obama's American Jobs Act.

Addressing about 200 people, mostly students and community activists, at Houston Hall at the University of Pennsylvania, Biden said the jobs bill would help first-responders in cities and towns throughout the country.

"We've introduced $4 billion to put 18,000 officers on the street," Biden said of the act. He said about 7,000 firefighters would be added nationwide.

He said that over the last 18 months, close to 10,000 police officers have been laid off across the United States. Biden said Flint, Mich., had to cut its police force by about 50 percent.

To add the 18,000 officers, he said, "here's how we pay for it . . . raise the tax 0.5 percent on people with incomes of $3.5 million."

He said critics in Congress argue that the funding is only temporary.

"Give me a break, temporary," Biden said. "It matters" to those who have been victims of crime and to law enforcement officers.

Biden was introduced to the gathering by Ramsey, who described the vice president as "a true friend of law enforcement."

"He's the one who got 100 more cops in our city," said Ramsey, noting that previous federal funding allowed the hiring of additional police in Philadelphia.

Biden spoke to the crowd after meeting privately with police administrators from Philadelphia, Wilmington, Camden, Chester, and other nearby communities for about 45 minutes.

"These men and women behind me are a lot more than cops. ... All of these guys and women get it," Biden said of the need to pass the jobs bill.

The vice president took aim at Republican lawmakers who opposed the legislation, noting that they did not allow the measure to come up for debate.

"This is not your father's Republican Party," Biden said. "They have a very different values set than we have."

He said that amid the GOP opposition, "starting this week, we're taking every constituent part of the bill to the people," Biden said.

Biden said that when he talked to the police leaders, "they wanted to talk about drugs and guns and drugs and rehabilitation. These are very smart people."

The vice president was joined by Mayor Nutter and Gil Kerlikowske, director of national drug control policy.

Kerlikowske said the police administrators talked about the need for funding.

"It comes as no surprise that they are having to make difficult decisions," Kerlikowske said. "Because of the economic situation, their program budgets are being strained."

Kerlikowske noted that they talked about the increased need for drug prevention and treatment programs.

Nutter told the gathering that he had been discussing with Biden and the police administrators how to make communities safer. "In order to make safer neighborhoods," he said, police need additional funding. "That's why the American Jobs Act is so important."

Contact staff writer Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or


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