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President Biden appeared at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania Tuesday to roll out his “Safer America Plan” to tackle crime in the U.S.  

After warming up the crowd, the president invoked the simpler times of his childhood, when families didn’t have to worry about crime or drugs on the street. 

President Biden delivering a speech at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania Tuesday. 

President Biden delivering a speech at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania Tuesday. (Fox News)

“Too many families (today) haven’t had that peace of mind. They watch the news. They see kids being gunned down in schools and on the streets almost every single night. You turn the news on, that’s what you see,” Biden said. 

He added: “They see their neighbors lose their loved ones to drugs like fentanyl. They see hate and anger and violence just walking the streets of America, and they just want to feel safe again. They want to feel a sense of security. And that’s what my crime plan is all about.” 

Fentanyl has been flooding into the United States across the U.S-Mexico border since Biden took office and moved to rescind many Trump-era policies. The CDC expects fentanyl-related deaths including overdoses to approach 100,000 in 2022, a record. Illegal border crossings into the United States have routinely broken records month after month during Biden’s tenure. 


His talk came on the heels of several high-profile mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas and ahead of the November midterm elections. Homicides, meanwhile, have been increasing in Pennsylvania, but overall crime seems to have fallen over the last year, according to state statistics.

According to, the chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime in Wilkes-Barre is 1 in 31. Based on FBI crime data, Wilkes-Barre is not one of the safest communities in America. Relative to Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre has a crime rate that is higher than 92% of the state’s cities and towns of all sizes.

President Joe Biden arrives on Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, en route to Washington.

President Joe Biden arrives on Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, en route to Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

In Scranton, which is about 20 miles from Wilkes-Barre and is Biden’s hometown, the chances of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime are about 1 in 47. 

Amid a rise in crime, the president argued that too much has been expected of police – from protecting citizens, to being psychologists, to being sociologists. He said more funding is necessary to train and hire more officers and stressed the need to rebuild trust between police officers and the community. 


Biden also said he was determined to ban assault weapons and tighten gun laws but was not altogether opposed to guns. As a U.S. senator, he played a leading role in temporarily banning assault-style weapons, including firearms similar to the AR-15 and he wants to put the law back into place.

Biden said his new plan would provide more funding for preventative measures, including afterschool and summer job programs and mental health resources. 

President Joe Biden holds a press conference.

President Joe Biden holds a press conference. (Fox News )

“All these steps will prevent crime, not increase,” Biden said. “A safer America requires all of us to uphold the rule of law, not the rule of any one party or any one person.” 

Biden also called out some Republicans for defending Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. 

“Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress. Don’t tell me you support law enforcement. If you won’t condemn what happened on the 6th, don’t tell me … which side are you on?” Biden said. “You can’t be a party of law and order and call the people who attack the police on January 6th. Patriots.”    

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel criticized Biden’s speech, saying there was “nobody worse to appeal to blue-collar voters in Pennsylvania than 50-year career politician Joe Biden.” 

“Biden Democrats want to destroy Pennsylvania jobs, release violent criminals back on the streets, and raise taxes on hardworking Pennsylvanians,” McDaniel said in a statement. “The agenda of Biden Democrats has left Pennsylvania communities less safe, and this is why Pennsylvanians will be voting for a new direction in November.” 


Biden ended his talk by imploring the audience to vote for Democrats in the midterm elections. It was his first of three trips in the coming week, underscoring Pennsylvania’s role as a key political battleground. Former President Donald Trump will host his own rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday. 

Biden has tried to balance his approach to crime by acknowledging voters’ fears and praising law enforcement, but also urging more accountability for officers.

He rejected the activist slogan “defund the police,” which many Democrats have used over the past two years and Republicans have used as a cudgel against Democrats in general, by calling for more money for cops.

Biden has laid out a $37 billion plan for addressing crime and boosting law enforcement resources. He wants Congress to spend $13 billion to help communities hire and train 100,000 police officers over five years. Another $3 billion would go to clearing court backlogs and resolving cases involving murders and guns, and $5 billion more would go to support programs that could help stop violence before it occurs.


In addition, Biden is looking for $15 billion to provide grants to initiatives for preventing violent crime or creating public health responses to nonviolent incidents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Bradford Betz is a reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @Bradford_Betz.

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