The Corner

Another Point on Biden’s Crime Comments

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Vice President Biden supports another bout of “stimulus” spending on local police officer salaries, and responded to critics by saying:

Well, let me tell you, it’s not temporary when that 911 call comes in and a woman’s being raped, if a cop shows up in time to prevent the rape. It’s not temporary to that woman. It’s not temporary to the guy whose store is being held up and there’s a gun pointed at his head, if a cop shows up and he’s not killed. That’s not temporary to that store owner. Give me a break! Temporary.

Based on the most recent data available from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 28.3 percent of victims of violent crimes reported that the police responded within five minutes. Another 30.3 percent reported that the police arrived within six to ten minutes, and 33.5 percent reported arrival within eleven minutes to one hour.

The additional spending Biden advocates is unlikely to reduce response times, because the funding is intended to pay for the salaries of currently employed officers, not for the hiring of additional officers. In addition, the amount of jobs “saved” would likely have a minimal impact on response times. Shaving off a second or two when response times take several minutes would not do much to prevent the commission of crimes that are already taking place.

What Biden fails to consider with his hypothetical scenarios is that the police are often too far away to prevent crime from occurring. Further, crime victims do not always have the luxury of being able to call 911. When immediately coming under attack, the best protection a law-abiding citizen has is being capable of self-defense with a firearm — an obvious point that Biden appears not to consider.

— David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D., is a research fellow in empirical policy analysis in the Center for Data Analysis at the Heritage Foundation.