WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRPROUD) — Crime has been a huge problem across the country, including right here in Baton Rouge. President Joe Biden met with Baton Rouge officials to find more ways to tackle the issue.

The summer is near and that could make matters worse when it comes to the jarring crime numbers the Red Stick is already dealing with.

“Use the money. Hire the police officers,” stated President Joe Biden.

President Biden urged local leaders at the Rose Garden event in Washington D.C. to use their $350 million from the American Rescue Funds to invest in crime prevention.

“We’re making sure the communities have the resources available to them that they’ve never had before. They’re going to have to make tough choices between and among doing these things, reduce violence and ensure safety,” he said.

Biden hosted a roundtable with local officials across the country, including two of Baton Rouge’s own — BRPD Chief Murphy Paul and the Mayor Broome’s Assistant Chief Administration Officer Courtney Scott.

Images courtesy of Mayor Broome’s Office

“One of the reasons we’re here today is to thank him for making that available. But at the same time, listening to other mayors, other chiefs of police to see how they’ve used those funds, and see if we can get some takeaways to get better,” said Chief Murphy Paul.

Chief Paul said with the COVID-19 relief money he was able to buy 200 more police units, increase their community relations division and pour money into outreach and crime prevention programs.

“We’re taking a very focused approach, specifically targeting those who are pulling triggers in our community, gang violence. And we’ve been very I’ve seen some wins in those categories,” he explained.

Chief Paul also said upgrading their technology has been a gamechanger for the police department.

“We’ve increased our coverage in our real-time crime center with technology license plates, readers, and cameras. Also analytical technology as well. But also we’re actually partnering with our community,” he said.

“Taking action today is going to save lives tomorrow,” said President Biden.

With homicides and crimes at all-time highs, the president is hoping to see the American Rescue Act money put to good use.