President Biden addressed the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service at the Capitol on Wednesday, paying tribute to police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

In remarks at the annual event, which is sponsored by the National Fraternal Order of Polices (FOP), Biden highlighted the trip he took to North Carolina just a couple of weeks ago to meet with the families of fallen officers in Charlotte. Four law enforcement officers were killed, and four other officers wounded by a suspect who opened fire in a warrant-related gunfight on April 30.

“Every time you put on that shield and walk out of the house. Your family wonders if that call will come, or if they’ll get that terrible call somewhere during the day or night,” Biden said.

“You feel like you’re being sucked into this … losing part of your soul,” he added, sharing about his personal experiences with loss. 

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He referenced his late son Beau’s Army service and repeated a common line about how loss feels like a “black hole in the middle of your chest.” Beau Biden died from glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer, in May 2015 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Beau served a tour in Iraq from 2008 to 2009.

Biden said, “I hope you take comfort, and knowledge that their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

The president spoke about some of the achievements his administration has prioritized to get cops on the street, invest in public safety, pass gun control measures and protect first responders. He mentioned $350 billion included in the American Rescue Plan for states and cities to hire and retain police officers and pay benefits to disabled first responders, as well as $37 billion included in the Save America Plan to improve community policing. 

Biden also touted his executive order on policing and reforms to mental health public services.

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President Biden speaks at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service on Capitol Hill

“Being a cop is one hell of a lot harder than it’s ever been. We expect everything of you,” Biden said, saying that officers are expected to be drug counselors, social workers and guardians of “communities flooded with weapons and fear.” 

Biden claimed violent crime is near a 50-year-low thanks to “the extraordinary efforts” of law enforcement in communities across America.

The FBI reported a 5.7 percent drop in violent crime between Q4 2022 and Q4 2023 in the latest Quarterly Uniform Crime Report, made available on March 18, 2024. The murder rate also fell 13.2 percent, FBI data showed. 

Biden’s claim about violent crime appears to reference Jeff Asher, a crime analyst, who wrote in his newsletter that the violent-crime rate was near its lowest level in more than 50 years, citing FBI figures. 

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Police officers attend President Biden's remarks at National Peace Officers Memorial Service in Washington, D.C.

“The decline in crime shown in the quarterly data — if realized — would be historically large,” Asher wrote in December. “To put some of this in perspective, a 4 percent decline in the nation’s violent crime rate relative to 2022’s reported rate would lead to the lowest violent crime rate nationally since 1969.”

The FBI will release an annual report on crime rates later this year. 

During his remarks, Biden emphasized his administration’s gun control initiatives. 

“The historic steps taken to support you, to stop the flow of illegal guns, to hold gun traffickers accountable for crime. It matters, and it matters a lot,” Biden told the gathered law enforcement officers, adding, “There’s still much more to be done.”

Fox News’ Nick Rojas contributed to this report.

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