WASHINGTON (AP) – With the Capitol in the background, US President Joe Biden on Saturday paid tribute to fallen police officers in the line of duty and honored those who fought the Jan. 6 assault on the site, declaring that “thanks to you , democracy survived ”.
Biden spoke at the 40th Annual National Law Enforcement Officers Commemorative Ceremony to remember the 491 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2020. Standing where a violent mob tried to prevent their arrival for president, Biden praised the 150 police officers who were wounded and the five who died after the attack.
“Nine months ago, your brothers and sisters thwarted an unconstitutional and fundamentally anti-American attack on our nation’s values and our votes,” Biden stressed. “Thanks to these men and women, we avoided a catastrophe, but the heroism came at a cost to you and your families.”
Hundreds of police officers and their families sat by the west facade of the Capitol. Some in the crowd wiped their eyes as the president drew connections between his losses and his own story of grief, including the deaths of his first wife and two children, likening it to “losing part of your soul.”
Biden also highlighted the heavy burden that law enforcement officers carry and rejected the political move to “take funds away from the police,” saying that those gathered before him would receive “more resources, not less, to be able to do their jobs.”
“We expect everything from you and it is beyond anyone’s ability to meet full expectations,” said Biden. “Being a cop today is much more difficult than ever.”
Biden’s attempts to pass a police reform law to further regulate practices after the death of African-American George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer failed, when congressional negotiators announced in September that they had ended them without a deal.