The nation’s largest police union late Monday slammed White House press secretary Jen Psaki for comments it said appeared to shrug off concerns about crime amid a spate of deadly attacks on police officers.
Patrick Yoes, head of the National Fraternal Order of Police, called on Ms. Psaki to apologize to crime victims for her remarks on a political podcast, saying they were “very wrong.”
“She may feel safe in the White House, one of the most protected buildings in the United States, but not everyone feels safe in their workplace,” Mr. Yoes said of Ms. Psaki. “The world we find ourselves in is dangerous and is becoming increasingly more so. Tens of thousands of people have been the victims of crime this month alone and some of them never made it back home.”
Mr. Yoes pointed the finger at lax prosecutors, accusing them of having “gone rogue” by not pursuing more serious charges against violent offenders and seeking either no bail or a small amount of bail.
“Many of them are refusing to bring charges against so-called ‘low-level’ or ‘nonviolent offenders,’” Mr. Yoes added. “Under their leadership, which has been abhorrent in many cases, many violent offenders don’t stay in jail — they’re back on the streets and free to commit more crimes. That is the universe in which I, and millions of Americans, live in.”
Appearing on the progressive podcast “Pod Save America,” which is hosted by former Obama White House officials, Ms. Psaki said that some media coverage of violent crime in major cities — in particular from Fox News commentators — came from an “alternative universe.”
During her appearance, Ms. Psaki read the chyrons of various cable news shows off the TVs in her White House office.
“CNN [is saying] ‘Pentagon: As many as 8,500 U.S. troops on heightened alert’ OK, true,” she said. “Same on MSNBC. CNBC is doing their own thing about the market.”
“And then on Fox is Jeanine Pirro talking about ‘soft-on-crime consequences,’” Ms. Psaki continued. “I mean, what does that even mean, right? So there’s just an alternative universe on some coverage. What’s scary about it is [that] a lot of people watch that.”
“They think the president isn’t doing anything to address people’s safety in New York and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said.
On Monday, Ms. Psaki was pressed about her comments.
“I encourage anyone to listen to the full context of the interview in the conversation,” Ms. Psaki said. “What I was speaking to was a chyron on Fox News, since you raised it, which suggested this administration is soft on crime with no basis.”
She then touted the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that cleared Congress last year.
“There was additional funding to support local COPS [Community Oriented Policing Services] programs, something that every single Republican voted against. I said in that interview that I know they don’t like it when we call that out. I’m gonna keep calling that out because that’s a fact,” Ms, Psaki said.
The flap over Ms. Psaki’s remarks comes the same week as President Biden will travel to New York to meet with Mayor Eric Adams and discuss strategies to reduce gun violence. Mr. Biden’s visit follows the death of two NYPD officers responding to a domestic violence call in Harlem.