At the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on Tuesday, President Trump lauded fallen law enforcement officers as those who “stared down danger, raced down alleys, chased down criminals, kicked down doors, and faced down evil.”
“And they did it all with courage, with dignity, with pride, with love for their nation and with love for their families. They lived every day of their lives by that most sacred calling: to serve and protect,” he said. “Their immortal legacy lives on in each and every one of you. Their strength lives in your soul. Their courage glows in your heart. And their blood flows in your veins. And today, every American heart bleeds blue.”
The midday event at the West Front of the United States Capitol was the 37th annual National Police Week memorial, sponsored by the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police and the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary.
Trump mentioned Southport, Ind., Police Lt. Aaron Allan, who was shot 11 times at the scene of a car accident last July; Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer Charles Hartfield, who was killed off-duty in the October Las Vegas music festival mass shooting; and Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez, who died along an interstate near Van Horn, Texas, in November in what authorities now indicate may have been an accident.
“Roger said he wanted to prevent terrorists and drugs from coming into our country. We all do. And we’re going to get it done. But that’s exactly what he did. He bravely confronted the cartels, the smugglers, the human traffickers, the gangs that threaten our communities,” Trump said. “…We will always remember Agent Martinez, and we will honor his noble sacrifice by continuing his vital mission. The first duty of government is to protect our citizens, and the men and women of DHS are on the front lines of this incredible, heroic fight.”
Trump touted his administration’s reversal of an Obama-era policy that tightened restrictions on the kinds of surplus military equipment given to local police departments. The president said departments now “are taking equipment at a record clip.”
“If we want to bring down violent crime, then we must stand up for our police. We must confront and condemn dangerous anti-police prejudice. Can you believe there’s prejudice with respect to our police? We’re not going to let bad things happen to our police,” he said. “…We believe criminals who kill our police should get the death penalty. Bring it forth.”
Trump embraced the mother of NYPD Det. Miosotis Familia, who was shot in the head last July while sitting in her patrol car in the Bronx. Familia’s partner, Officer Vincent Maher, joined the family onstage.
“This is a woman who got injured a while ago and volunteered to come back to patrol, to one of the roughest places in New York City. She volunteered to come back — to leave a cushy job, to come back to patrol,” Maher said. “She was only there for about two weeks… and she may have been lost that night, but she saved a lot of lives, in turn, because of her memory and everything that transpired after the fact. She was an incredible person, and she is missed by family.”
At a Sunday evening candlelight vigil on the National Mall, sponsored by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised the officers who “place your badge, your skills, and even your lives between the righteous and dutiful Americans and the predators that threaten them.”
“Crime is a direct threat to freedom, to public safety and to economic prosperity. No factory, no modern grocery store, or pharmacy can operate where there is no public safety. And there is no doubt that the destruction from rising crime falls earliest and hardest on the poor and our minority citizens,” Sessions said. “We value and affirm all our citizens and must make all communities safe. We can never cede a community, block or street corner to the criminal element. We can never capitulate to lawlessness at our borders. To do so is to give our very sovereignty to outlaws.”
“Law is more than an abstraction. Law must be made real. That means those who destroy, abuse and maim must be stopped. Victim rights must be vindicated. That means we must support and honor those who protect us. And it is fitting and right that we join together annually as a nation to remember those that have given their all for us.”
The attorney general said he felt it was one of his “highest callings to bring attention to your successes and encourage your fellow citizens to support you in your demanding and difficult work.”