Biden honors police and calls for more support for an increasingly challenging career

Biden honors police and calls for more support for an increasingly challenging career

President Joe Biden delivers his remarks during the 40th Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Ceremony in Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 16, 2021. The President and First Lady honor the law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2019 and 2020.

 President Joe Biden said being a policeman today is "more difficult than it's ever been" in a speech on Saturday that he used to call for additional support and reforms for what he described as an increasingly overburdened and dangerous profession.

Biden made the remarks in front of hundreds of officers who gathered outside the Capitol as part of the National Peace Officers' 40th Annual Memorial Service.

"We expect you to be willing to stand in the way and take a bullet for us," he said. "We expect you to be able to track down the bad guys. We expect you to be the psychiatrist who talks about a violent couple together to hold back. We expect you to be everything. We expect you to be all that you are, which is beyond anyone's ability to meet high expectations."

During the 22-minute speech, he thanked local police for thwarting the January 6 rebellion as rioters tried to prevent Congress from ratifying the 2020 elections.

Biden said he "has no hesitation" in awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department. He admitted that 150 officers were wounded in the attack, and five died in its aftermath.

"Because of you," he said, "democracy has held."

Biden called the losses to the career "extremely heavy" and said 2020 was the deadliest year on law enforcement's record. He said in front of the assembled: "Your loss is also a loss for America, and your pain is America's pain."

Biden used the speech to draw attention to reforms and increase the support he said was necessary to sustain a career. He cited funding for the $1.9 trillion U.S. bailout bill that Biden signed into law earlier this year to hire more officers.

The death of George Floyd in 2020 at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked waves of protest and calls for comprehensive reform. Although reform efforts in Congress faltered, Biden thanked the Brotherhood in the police for working toward an agreement on "meaningful reforms."

"We are waking up to the idea that unless we change the environment in which work can be done," he said. "We're going to have a problem with enough women and men who come forward to want to do the job."

Biden called for increased investments in training and community policing, as well as local violence prevention programs. Biden said police should not be expected to do "every job in the sun" and have sufficient partners and resources. He said improving mental health services and health care, housing, and social services would prevent "discord."

Responding to police who said they felt "overwhelmed," Biden called for tighter gun control and "red flag" laws that would allow courts to seize firearms from people in crisis temporarily.

During the speech, Biden attempted to reach out to the crowd, noting the loss of two of his children and his blue-collar roots that grew up in Pennsylvania. He said the only careers he aspired to were priest, firefighter, or policeman.

"I had to agree to this," he said with a laugh.

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