WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden praised law enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol during the attack on Jan. 6 in remarks Saturday at the National Peace Officers' annual memorial service.
Biden said the officers of the U.S. Capitol Police and Washington, D.C. Metropolitan police department "thwarted an unconstitutional and fundamentally un-American attack on the nation's value and our votes" during the events of Jan. 6.
The memorial, mourning 491 law enforcement officers around the country who died on the job in 2019 and 2020, took place in front of the U.S. Capitol. Flags were also flown at half-staff in honor of the fallen officers.
"Because of you democracy survived," Biden said, "but only because of the women and men of the United States Capitol Police force, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan police department and other law enforcement agencies, who once again, literally put their bodies on the line to protect democracy."
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Biden also spoke on the heavy expectations of police officers, stating that "being a cop today is a hell of a lot harder than it's ever been."
"It always amazes me how the public doesn't fully understand what we expect of our law enforcement officers," he said. "We expect you to be people ready to stand in the way and take a bullet for us. We expect you to be able to track down the bad guys. We expect you to be everything. We expect everything of you, and it's beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the expectations."
Biden vowed to continue work on police reform despite the failed attempt at a bipartisan police reform deal, which failed in Congress in September. He said he would explore possible executive actions to hold officers accountable.
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Despite the failure, Biden credited the National Fraternal Order of Police, a major officers union which endorsed former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, with "sincerely trying to reach an agreement" on policing reform.
Biden also promised to provide support and resources for officers and police departments, saying he's already asked Congress for hundreds of millions of dollars for training, recruitment and additional resources like mental health professionals.
"The toll on this profession these past two years has been heavy," Biden said. "Unless we change the environment in which the job can be done, we're going to have trouble having enough women and men come forward who want to do the job." .
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden honors fallen police officers during tribute at US Capitol