Advertisement

At 43rd National Peace Officers' Memorial, Biden touts help for law enforcement

222 police officers died in 2023, 48 by gunfire.

By Chris Benson
"Every time you put on that shield and walk out of the house, your family wonders if that call will come or if they'll get that terrible call somewhere during the day or night," U.S. President Joe Biden said Wednesday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
1 of 10 | "Every time you put on that shield and walk out of the house, your family wonders if that call will come or if they'll get that terrible call somewhere during the day or night," U.S. President Joe Biden said Wednesday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

May 15 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Wednesday was on Capitol Hill to deliver remarks at the 43rd National Peace Officers' Memorial Service as he outlined his efforts to aid American law enforcement while calling on Congress to do more to help.

"Every time you put on that shield and walk out of the house, your family wonders if that call will come or if they'll get that terrible call somewhere during the day or night," the president said as he referenced a recent North Carolina shooting that left four law enforcement officers dead.

Advertisement

The day's event was put on by the National Fraternal Order of Police to honor the 222 American police officers who died in the line of duty last year. Also in attendance were Attorney General Merrick Garland, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Advertisement

Biden relayed the story of when he lost his first wife and young daughter, and how his late son Beau had returned from serving overseas in Iraq and developed the cancer that ultimately took his life and the aftermath of dealing with his death.

"For all the families of our fallen officers, I know hearing the name of your husband, wife, father, mother, son or daughter, brother, sister, brings it all back as you got that news just 10 minutes ago," he said as he spoke of "that black hole in the middle of your chest you feel like you're being sucked into. It's like losing a part of your soul."

The 109-year-old National Fraternal Order of Police says in 2023 there were 48 police officer deaths by gunfire. But this year alone, a total 58 police officers so far have died while 25 of those deaths happened just in the last month.

"I know the one thing that helped," Biden said about his own experiences with the death of loved ones.

"Family. If you have family, hold them tight. Hold on to each other."

"The day will come" when thoughts of lost loved ones "will bring a smile to lift you before it brings a tear to your eye," Biden told the crowd as he said he hopes it comes sooner to them but that it takes time.

Advertisement

President John F. Kennedy in October 1962 designated May 15 as National Peace Officers' Memorial Day. To honor Peace Officers Memorial Day, flags across the United States on Wednesday are flown at half-staff.

Ahead of Wednesday morning's event, the Fraternal Order of Police said on X that the "solemn occasion reminds us of the courage, dedication and selflessness of our law enforcement officers."

"Being a police officer is not just what you do, it's who you are," Biden said as he told the crowd he "admired" their courage to be there and how their loved ones' "sacrifices will never be forgotten."

"And just like all the women and men in law enforcement I grew up with in Scranton and Claymont, you always run toward danger as others run away from it," he said, referencing his Pennsylvania birthplace and Delaware home.

The president said police officers have it in "their DNA" as he told them "most of you even when you were kids you did it long before you became an officer."

"You run toward the cries for help knowing you could be a help," he said.

Biden took note of his February White House meeting with the police chiefs of Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Miami, Milwaukee and Dekalb County, Ga.

Advertisement

"Being a cop is one [expletive] of a lot harder than its ever been," the president said Wednesday. "We expect everything of you" as he said police are now expected to also be "drug counselors, social workers to kids who have been abandoned, guardians to communities flooded with weapons of fear."

He touted his administration's effort to aid law enforcement in their efforts with the American Rescue Plan Act, which he says gave $350 billion to cities and states "to keep communities safe, retain and hire more police officers, pay overtime and bonuses, expand benefits for disabled first responders" and put more police officers on the streets and to crack down on illegal gun sales.

Biden also mentioned his $37 billion Safer America Plan to improve police hires and fight crime.

"It's no accident that violent crime is at a 50 year low," he said.

The Biden administration "is laser-focused on providing you with the mental health and wellness resources you need and deserve," he said as he talked about his efforts to expand police officer benefits for officers and their families.

The likely 2024 Democratic nominee urged congress to pass the Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act -- introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Kevin Cramer, R-ND -- which would expand access to federal support for the families of firefighters and first responders who pass away from cancer caused by carcinogenic exposure during their service.

Advertisement

"I know so many who still carry the physical and visible wounds of your service," he stated.

"We've made a lot of progress but there's still much more to be done," Biden said at the end of his speech. "We can never thank you enough for your courage, your service and your sacrifice" he said "for people you don't even know."

The Tennessee-headquartered Fraternal Order of Police which boasts of having more than 355,000 members and 2,100 chapters, endorsed Trump's re-election campaign in September 2020 but has so far not endorsed either of expected candidate for this year's election.

But later Wednesday morning, the National Fraternal Order of Police on social media shared a post by House Republicans that blamed Democrats for "this uptick in violence," which they claim "is the direct result of the radical Democrats, soft-on-crime policies and the defund the police movement."

Latest Headlines