(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden took credit for declining crime rates in parts of the US, as he seeks to reverse potentially damaging public perceptions that violence and lawlessness are on the rise. 

“We stepped up,” Biden said Wednesday during a roundtable with police chiefs at the White House. “Our plan’s working, but we still have much more to do.”

Crime in the US fell last year from pandemic-era peaks, according to FBI data released in December, countering Americans’ views on the issue. More than six in 10, though, said crime remains a serious problem, according to a Gallup poll released in November, highlighting a vulnerability for Biden heading into a likely general-election rematch with Republican Donald Trump. 

“My administration is going to choose progress over politics, and communities across the country are safer because of that policy,” Biden said.

The police chiefs of Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit, Charlotte and Miami — all major cities located in competitive 2024 election states — are among those attending Wednesday’s meeting. 

Biden said crime was higher under Trump, who in campaign speeches has painted a harrowing picture of the condition of US cities.

The president said his policies have helped drive down crime, citing billions of dollars for public safety and violence prevention in his Covid-19 rescue package as well as crisis-intervention funding in his bipartisan gun law.

Trump and Republicans, though, have accused Biden and Democrats of being soft on the issue, pointing to state and local policies limiting police tactics and easing prosecutions of lower-level offenses. They have also cited a spate of murders and violent carjackings in Washington, a national outlier where crime has remained high. 

Washington’s police chief, Pamela Smith, was not among the attendees, and the Metropolitan Police Department did not respond to a request for comment. 

Republicans have also seized on violence committed by people living illegally in the US, tying the issue to Biden’s handling of border security. Most recently, GOP lawmakers have highlighted case of Laken Riley, a student found dead in Georgia whom police allege was killed by an immigrant from Venezuela who had previously been arrested for illegally crossing the US-Mexico border.

Undocumented immigrants generally have lower crime rates than native-born US citizens and legal immigrants, studies show. 

--With assistance from Josh Wingrove.

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