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“Here, nine months ago, your brothers and sisters thwarted an unconstitutional and fundamentally un-American attack on our nation’s values and our votes,” he said. “Because of you, democracy survived. But only because of you.”
Mr Biden spoke about the huge expectations people have on police today, adding: “We expect everything of [police officers], and it's beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the total expectations. Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it’s ever been.”
Addressing the families of fallen officers, he drew from his own personal losses and grief and said: “We know from personal experience that every time there’s a ceremony or memorial honouring your lost husband or wife, son, or daughter, it can summon that pride, but also that terrible feeling as if you’re just hearing the news for the first time.
“No parent should bury a child,” he said, adding that it was like “losing part of your soul”.
Mr Biden also cited the funding allocated to police departments in the American Rescue Plan and said that he is committed to investing in mental health resources in particular.
“You shouldn’t be the one having to talk someone off the edge of a roof; you should have professional help with you,” he said.
In honour of Saturday’s service, the president issued a proclamation on Friday that to pay respect to all law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty, and their families, all US flags be flown at half-staff. Mr Biden acknowledge that 2020 was the deadliest year for law enforcement on record.
Some 140 police officers suffered injuries when a pro-Trump mob sent to the Capitol by the outgoing president to “fight like hell” tried to storm Congress and prevent Mr Biden’s victory being certified. More than 500 suspects from the riot are going through the court system.
The president’s remarks come after an attempt to reform policing in the wake of the murder of George Floyd failed in Congress.
Mr Biden maintains that he will continue to pursue amendments to parts of the law enforcement system.
The president said that to support police officers “requires that we invest in systems that provide adequate health care, counseling, drug prevention, housing, education, and other social services in the community, so there is not the discord”.
Said Mr Biden: “We’re waking up to the notion that unless we change the environment in which the job can be done, we’re gonna have trouble having enough women and men come forward who want to do the job.”