Trust Index: Fact-checking crime, unrest claims from first Trump-Biden debate

Presidential candidates clash about crime, unrest during first debate

The issues of policing, race and violence in American cities have become top issues as protests over police shootings and systemic injustices have spread across the country, with sometimes violent outcomes as police and protestors confronted one another.

President Donald Trump has branded himself the “law and order” candidate in the race, garnering the vast majority of support for law enforcement groups across the country, including Michigan’s police officer association.

Trump’s budget for law enforcement

Claims about the issues were made during Tuesday night’s first presidential debate between Trump and former Vice President Joe Bien. We’re fact-checking the claims, starting with one that Biden has been making since late last month on the President’s budget and local police.

“The only one defending that his budget calls for a $400 million cut and look for law enforcement assistance,” Biden claimed.

This is true.

It's True

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What is the Trust Index?

According to the President’s budget released back in February, the Trump administration would cut about $515 million from 75 programs meant to go to state and local law enforcement, and after some Congressional math which has to do with money appropriated and not appropriated for FY2021, that number drops by about $100 million, bringing it to around $400 million.

Crime rate under Obama

Biden also talked about the record of the Obama administration when it came to the crime rate.

“Violent crime went down 17 percent, 15 percent, in our administration. It’s gone up on his watch,” Biden said pointing at Trump across the stage.

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Biden overstates, then understates, the crime rate during the Obama years. According to FBI data the violent crime rate dropped 16 percent.

But the second half of his claim is not true.

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According to those same FBI numbers, crime has also fallen under Trump for the last three years.

1994 crime bill claims

The President made claims of his own, at one point bringing up Biden’s record around a controversial crime bill under President Bill Clinton.

“You call them super predators, and you’ve called them worse than that because you look back at your testimony over the years you’ve called them a lot worse than that,” Trump said.

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What is the Trust Index?

We couldn’t find any evidence Biden used the term “super predator” although he did use the term “predator” and said those criminals were “beyond the pale” in a 1993 floor speech in defense of the now notorious crime bill. There was also no evidence Biden used any stronger or offensive language in defense of the bill.

Violence during protests, civil unrest claims

Finally, one more from the President about violence during protests and civil unrest.

“Look at Oakland, look what happened and look what happened in Baltimore, look what happened. Frankly was more violent than what I’m even seeing now,” Trump said.

We’re calling this false.

Not True

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What is the Trust Index?

According to police records and reports from the protests in Oakland in 2014, just over 350 people were arrested and 486 were arrested in Baltimore in 2015 and property damage totaled about 9 million. Contrast that with more than 600 arrests and 500 million dollars in damage in Minneapolis during unrest this year alone.

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