President Joe Biden issued a proclamation for Police Officer Memorial Day and National Police Week on Friday. The statement praised the courage and sacrifice of officers, but it criticized police for the distrust black and brown Americans have of law enforcement.
The proclamation discussed police response during the COVID-19 pandemic. "This year, even as the COVID-19 pandemic took a physical, mental, and emotional toll, our officers, deputies, and troopers demonstrated courage and dedication in continuing to support our communities. As we recognize Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week, we honor those who lost their lives in the line of duty, and thank them on behalf of this grateful Nation for their service," the President said.
The proclamation also reaffirmed Biden's previous support for supplying agencies with resources needed to "do their jobs successfully and the funding necessary to enhance officer safety and wellness, including improving access to mental health services. We will also continue to bolster initiatives that protect our law enforcement officers’ physical safety — including those that provide for bulletproof vests and active shooter training."
The proclamation included some talking points from the anti-police movement. "This year, we also recognize that in many of our communities, especially Black and brown communities, there is a deep sense of distrust towards law enforcement; a distrust that has been exacerbated by the recent deaths of several Black and brown people at the hands of law enforcement. These deaths have resulted in a profound fear, trauma, pain, and exhaustion for many Black and brown Americans, and the resulting breakdown in trust between law enforcement and the communities they have sworn to protect and serve ultimately makes officers’ jobs harder and more dangerous as well. In order to rebuild that trust, our State, local, and Federal Government and law enforcement agencies must protect constitutional rights, ensure accountability for misconduct, and embrace policing that reflects community values and ensures community safety. These approaches benefit those who wear the badge and those who count on their protection."
Conservative media sites slammed the proclamation as "blaming police" for the increase in anti-police sentiment.
The proclamation further discussed one of the arguments for defunding law enforcement agencies and giving some of their duties to non-sworn personnel. "We must also stop tasking law enforcement with problems that are far beyond their jurisdictions. From providing emergency health care to resolving school discipline issues, our communities rely on the police to perform services that often should be the duty of other institutions. We then accuse the police of failure when responsibility lies with public policy choices they did not make. Supporting our law enforcement officers requires that we invest in underfunded public systems that provide health care, counseling, housing, education, and other social services."