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Joe Biden dons aviators to pay tribute to 491 police officers who died in the line of duty

Wearing his signature aviator sunglasses, President Joe Biden on Saturday paid tribute to fallen law enforcement officers and said being a cop is now ‘harder than it’s ever been’.

Biden spoke on the steps of the US Capitol at the 40th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service to remember the 491 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2020. 

Biden underscored the heavy burden placed on law enforcement officers, and rebuked the ‘defund the police’ political movement popular within his own party, saying that those gathered before him would get ‘more resources, not fewer, so you can do your job.’

‘We expect everything of you and it’s beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the total expectations,’ Biden said. ‘Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it’s ever been.’

Wearing his signature aviator sunglasses, President Joe Biden on Saturday paid tribute to fallen law enforcement officers at a ceremony in DC

Biden and First Lady Jill attended the 40th Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service to remember the 491 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2020

Biden and First Lady Jill attended the 40th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service to remember the 491 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2020

Officers play bagpipes before President Joe Biden speaks at the ceremony, honoring fallen law enforcement officers at the 40th annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service

Officers play bagpipes before President Joe Biden speaks at the ceremony, honoring fallen law enforcement officers at the 40th annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service

‘I’ve been coming to this memorial for 40 years, missed a couple, and I’ve spoken to too many police memorials around the country, and it always amazes me how the public doesn’t fully understand what we expect of our law enforcement officers,’ Biden said. 

Standing where a violent mob tried to block his own ascension to the presidency on January 6, Biden singled out the 150 officers who were injured in the attack and the five who have died since. 

He declared ‘because of you, democracy survived.’

‘Nine months ago, your brothers and sisters thwarted an unconstitutional and fundamentally un-American attack on our nation’s values and our votes. Because of you, democracy survived,’ Biden said. 

‘Because of these men and women, we avoided a catastrophe, but their heroism came at a cost to you and your families.’

Hundreds of officers and their families sat on chairs assembled on the Capitol´s west front. 

Standing where a violent mob tried to block his own ascension to the presidency on January 6, Biden singled out the 150 officers who were injured in the attack

Standing where a violent mob tried to block his own ascension to the presidency on January 6, Biden singled out the 150 officers who were injured in the attack 

President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, and FBI Director Christopher Wray stand during the U.S. National Anthem at the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service

President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, and FBI Director Christopher Wray stand during the U.S. National Anthem at the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service

Biden underscored the heavy burden placed on law enforcement officers, and rebuked the 'defund the police' political movement popular within his own party

Biden underscored the heavy burden placed on law enforcement officers, and rebuked the ‘defund the police’ political movement popular within his own party

Police officers play bagpipes before President Joe Biden speaks at the ceremony

Police officers play bagpipes before President Joe Biden speaks at the ceremony

Some in the audience dabbed their eyes as the president drew connections with their loss and his own history of grief, including the deaths of his first wife and two children, comparing it to ‘losing part of your soul.’

Biden played up his working-class roots, noting that he had many childhood friends who went on to become police officers, and said he had spoken at the event many times before. 

But while Biden has throughout his political career sought to identify with the uniformed services, the organization that ran Saturday´s event, the National Fraternal Order of Police, endorsed Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Many rank-and-file police officers across the country also supported the former president.

Biden’s efforts to pass a police overhaul bill after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis collapsed, with congressional negotiators announcing in September that talks had ended without an agreement. 

Officers walk with the honor color guard before President Joe Biden speaks at the ceremony

Officers walk with the honor color guard before President Joe Biden speaks at the ceremony

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden during the 40th annual national peace officers memorial service on the west front of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden during the 40th annual national peace officers memorial service on the west front of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden speak to two police officers as they are to place flowers on a wreath during a ceremony honoring fallen law enforcement officers

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden speak to two police officers as they are to place flowers on a wreath during a ceremony honoring fallen law enforcement officers

That was a setback for the Democratic president, who campaigned on the need for policing changes.

Additionally, his agenda on gun reform has also largely stalled and his initial pick to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms stepped aside in the face of staunch opposition. 

More recently, Biden has expressed hope that he can still sign a comprehensive police overhaul bill into law, while exploring more executive actions to help hold police officers accountable for breaking the law.

At the ceremony, Biden expressed concerns for all officers in the line of duty and mentioned the three constable deputies shot in an ambush early Saturday while working at a Houston bar. One deputy was killed. 


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