Biden says police harder than ever, promises reform
WASHINGTON, Oct.16 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden on Saturday pledged to move forward with police reform, telling a rally honoring the slain officers that their profession is called upon to do too much.
âWe expect you to be everything,â Biden said in a speech outside the United States Capitol, mourning 491 law enforcement officers who died on the job in 2019 and 2020. âWe expect everything from you.
âAnd that’s beyond anyone’s ability to meet total expectations,â he said. “Being a cop today is a lot harder than it’s ever been.”
Biden’s own drafting of his remarks came as he learned of a shooting earlier Saturday in Houston that left one dead and two injured. Biden expressed his sadness for the incident.
Biden has been a staunch ally of law enforcement, going back to his days in the Senate when he drafted a crime bill in 1994 with their help.
But his support for broad reforms following the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by an officer has created tensions with police groups opposed to some of the reforms being promoted by Democrats.
The National Fraternal Order of the Police (FOP), a large union of officers that sponsored Saturday’s event, supported Biden’s Republican opponent Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Efforts to reach a bipartisan deal on police reform failed in September, marking a setback for the Democratic president, who campaigned to take such steps.
Biden credited the FOP on Saturday with “sincerely trying to come to an agreement.” He added: “We haven’t made it”, but “must” do.
The president has said he will work to get law enforcement agencies the support and funding they need. Biden has previously asked Congress for hundreds of millions of dollars to help law enforcement with training and recruiting,
Biden also said he would explore other executive measures he could take to help hold police officers accountable for breaking the law. Officers, he said, need more support from mental health professionals and other professionals to deal with the issues they face on the streets.
Biden credited law enforcement with supporting American democracy during the Jan.6 riot on Capitol Hill.
And he reiterated his proposed measures to reduce gun violence, including against officers, a set of efforts that has also largely stalled due to insufficient support in Congress, which Democrats only control through officials. Narrow margins in both bedrooms.
Nearly 50 officers have been shot dead this year, according to the FOP, more than in 2020.
The National Peace Officers Memorial Service began in 1982 as a small gathering of about 120 survivors and law enforcement supporters. It has since evolved into a series of events, each year drawing thousands of officers and the families of victims to the nation’s capital.
The White House issued a proclamation on Saturday ordering flags to be hoisted at half mast in public buildings.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Nandita Bose and Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler and Daniel Wallis
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