At a drive-in rally on Saturday, Democratic presidential candidate and former Penn Presidential Professor of Practice Joe Biden discussed plans to deal with increasing violence in Philadelphia and safely reopen Pennsylvania amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following a drive-in rally in Bristol, Pa., Biden spoke with Eyewitness News Anchor Jessica Kartalija of CBS Philly about the importance of Pennsylvania in the presidential election — a battleground state with 20 electoral votes deemed to be a deciding factor in the election results. Biden took the time to outline his approach in addressing voters’ key concerns, specifically responding to Philadelphia's upward trend in homicides and his plan to reopen Pennsylvania's businesses and schools.
In response to Kartalija's question about his plans to reduce crime in Philadelphia and across the country amid nationwide calls to defund police forces, Biden made it clear that he was against defunding the police, stating that “police departments need more resources, not fewer."
The former vice president also outlined plans to form a commission made up of both law enforcement and members of the civil rights community to coordinate a plan to reduce violence.
Philadelphia has recorded more than 360 homicides so far this year, making 2020 the city's deadliest year for gun violence in more than a decade, with the number of homicide victims at a record high since 2007. The city filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania earlier this month in efforts to create more restrictive gun control measures.
In the interview with CBS Philly, Biden additionally outlined his plans to ensure the safe reopening of schools and businesses, stating that he would make the push toward enforcing a mask mandate through each state's governor or through local officials.
He further spoke on how resources would be allocated to schools to ensure a safe reopening, including providing adequate financial assistance for protective equipment and free masks and gloves.
In discussing these measures, Biden criticized rival candidate President Donald Trump for holding large-scale, "super-spreader" rallies which have been correlated with an increase in positive COVID-19 cases. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf slammed Trump for holding a packed campaign rally in Harrisburg in late September despite the ongoing pandemic, but Wolf's ability to mandate public gathering restrictions remains unclear after a recent federal ruling declared his statewide public gathering limits unconstitutional.