- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2024

President Biden on Wednesday tried to appeal to law enforcement officers by listing ways that his administration has helped police in America, even as police unions flock to former President Donald Trump.

Mr. Biden spoke at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, which honors officers killed in the line of duty. The event is part of National Police Week and sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police.

While Mr. Biden hailed law enforcement officers as the “very best of America,” he also took time during his brief remarks to tick off reasons why he believes police officers should support him in November.

“Since day one of my presidency, I’ve been working to make sure you have the tools you need to protect, partners you need in the community to help,” Mr. Biden said.

The COVID relief bill that Mr. Biden championed allocated $350 billion to states and cities so they could hire and retain more officers, pay overtime and bonuses as well as expand benefits for disabled first responders. 

A separate measure, dubbed the Safer America Plan, provided billions to fund public safety training for officers and expand community policing initiatives. 

Mr. Biden also has signed a huge package of gun measures, which include incentives for states to pass red flag laws that allow groups to petition courts to remove weapons from people deemed a threat; and expand laws that prevent people convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun and increase background checks.

Still, Mr. Biden has been struggling to gain support from police unions, as violent crimes have risen dramatically over the past few years and remain above pre-pandemic numbers.

Last year, 60 law enforcement officers were killed on the job, according to FBI data. The rate of assaults on law enforcement hit a 10-year high in 2023,  with more than 79,000 attacks reported, the data found.

A Gallup poll last fall found that 63% of Americans view nationwide crime as “extremely” or “very” serious, up from 54% in 2021. It is the highest percentage in the poll’s history.

“We’ve made a lot of progress but there is still much more to be done,” Mr. Biden said. 

Mr. Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has picked up endorsements from state police unions in Michigan and Florida, as well as several other local unions. The National Fraternal Order of Police and the New York City police unions both endorsed Mr. Trump in 2020, but have not yet endorsed a candidate this year.

Speaking Wednesday, Mr. Biden sought to undercut that support for his rival by reminding officers of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the building. 

Despite the attacks on law enforcement during the riot, police unions endorsed more Republican candidates than Democrats during the 2022 midterm elections.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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