11:50 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. Please, thank you. What a beautiful day. Third time. And I have to say, this is the most beautiful weather, so that brings us a little luck and it brings us a little happiness.
Chuck, I want to thank you for the great job that you’ve done. Your devotion has been incredible. I’ve known you a long time. We work together. And congratulations, really, on doing a fantastic job. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, Chuck. (Applause.)
As President, I am deeply honored to join in this sacred commemoration for the third year in a row. Today, in the heart of our nation’s capital, we come together to pay tribute to the American Peace Officers who made supreme sacrifice, all in the line of duty, in many cases for people they never met, for people they didn’t know.
We’re here to remember their noble lives, to thank God for their profound courage, and to express our love, respect, everlasting gratitude for the heroes of law enforcement. And that’s what they are and were: the heroes of law enforcement.
We’re pleased to be joined today by Attorney General William Barr — doing a great job — (applause) — Secretary Acosta, Secretary Chao, and Acting Secretary McAleenan. Thanks also to the members of Congress in attendance, of which there are many, and to the leaders of the Fraternal Order of Police, including Jim Pasco, Linda Hennie, and Chaplain Wiggins.
To all of the families of our fallen officers: Our whole country is praying for you, embracing you, and pledging to you that we will never, ever leave your side, never disappoint you. Your loved ones were extraordinary and selfless Americans who gave everything they had in defense of our communities, our children, and our nation.
These brave heroes did not put on the uniform for praise or for glory. They wore the badge because it was their duty, their calling, their noble purpose to serve, protect like nobody has ever done it before. They embodied our highest ideals and greatest aspirations. They were the very best of us. There was nobody close.
Today, we engrave their memories into our hearts and inscribe their names into the eternal roll call of American heroes.
In honor of the fallen, we pledge to always support their brothers and sisters in blue. We stand firmly, strongly, and proudly with the incredible men and women of law enforcement. (Applause.)
You do not hear it nearly enough, but Americans across this country love you, they support you, they respect you — more than you would ever know; more than you would, frankly, ever think even possible. They have great respect for law enforcement and the job you do.
As we memorialize those officers who fell in the line of duty, we also grieve for the 87 officers who died in recent years as a result of exposure to toxic debris following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
I would like to ask all of the families and fellow officers of those 9/11 heroes to please stand. Thank you. Please. (Applause.) Thank you very much. I can tell you I live in that city, and lived in that city during that time, and the job they did was incredible.
Today we renew our solemn oath that we will Never Forget. Before we read the names of the fallen, I want to share a few of the stories that exemplify the courage of those we honor at this ceremony.
Last year, America lost two extraordinary officers from Brookhaven, Mississippi: Patrolman James White and Corporal Zach Moak.
James asked his mom to sign a waiver so he could enlist in the Army National Guard at the age of only 17. Nearly 18 years in the military, James became something that he always wanted to be: a police officer. His teammate, Zach, spent time caring for his nieces and nephews and family. On days when he worked the night shift, he would tell them, “While you are sleeping, I will always be watching over you.”
Last September, James and Zach responded to a report of shots fired at a home. When they arrived, they bravely engaged the shooters. It was a bad two minutes. It was violent and it was vicious. Within seconds, the killer shot James. At that moment, Zach could have raced to safety; instead, he raced to the side of his friend. As Zach tried to save his teammate, he too was shot and killed, giving his life for his brother in blue.
Today we remember the words James once told his mom. He said: “Mama, if I ever die in the line of duty, know that I died doing what I [truly] loved.”
This morning, we are honored to be joined by the families of both of these remarkable officers. To Patrolman James White’s mom Laurie, and dad Darrell, and sons JC and James, and to Corporal Zach Moak’s mom Vickie, dad Marshall, and brother Chris: Your heroes loved their job, they loved their country, and today their love shines down on you from Heaven. They’re watching right now. They’re watching. They’re looking down on you, and they’re proud.
So, please, could I have you just stand up? The families, please. Please. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much. Two great men.
Also here with us for this ceremony are the families of Investigator Farrah Turner and Sergeant Terrence Carraway, of the Florence Police Department in the great state of South Carolina.
Last October, Investigator Farrah Turner went to the house of a man suspected of a crime against a minor. When she and her fellow officers approached, a gunman opened fire from his second story window. Nobody knew it could happen. Nobody thought it was even possible. There was no evidence, no anything. But they knew it was trouble.
At that very moment, Florence Police Sergeant Terrence Carraway, a very popular person in that whole area of South Carolina — they all knew him; legendary guy — he was on his way home. He heard the call come over the radio. He sped to the scene, jumped out of his car, and was racing to the rescue. He knew the bullets were coming, but he kept going forward and he was struck by one of those bullets.
In total, seven officers were shot on that very terrible day. We lost Sergeant Carraway, a 30-year veteran of the department. As his pastor has said, he wore “a badge of love.” “And every time you were in his presence, you could feel that love.” That’s what they all say.
Investigator Farrah Turner was also fatally wounded. She passed away several weeks later. In her final days, hundreds of members of the community came to visit her in the hospital. They loved her. They spoke of the way she not only saved them from danger but changed their lives through her grace, her support, and her prayers.
To Investigator Turner’s mom Katie and sister April, and to Sergeant Carraway’s wife Allison and son Terrence, brother Daniel, and sisters Sanovia and Ngozi: Your loved ones died the day — it was a sad day. But they’re looking down on you now. They died as they lived: fighting to protect innocent people. We will always remember them. We will always profoundly be grateful to have with us two of the surviving Florence officers who were shot that October evening: Brian Hart and Travis Scott. Brian and Travis, your continued service honors the legacy of your great friends. Thank you for being with us. (Applause.) Please stand. Please stand. Thank you very much. Thank you for being here.
The ambushes and attacks on our police must end, and they must end right now. We believe that criminals who murder police officers should immediately, with trial, get the death penalty — but quickly. The trial should go fast. (Applause.) It’s got to be fair, but it’s got to go fast. (Applause.) And that’s happening. Fair but fast, right? Fair but fast.
In the year before I took office, the number of officers killed in ambushes rose to the highest level in nearly 30 years. In the last two years, thankfully, the number of officers killed in ambushes has decreased by more than 70 percent.
I’m very proud to have sent to all of the police departments all over the country hundreds of millions — and even billions — of dollars’ worth of military equipment that wasn’t being used. Beautiful, wonderful, safe, great equipment that wasn’t being used. And other administrations didn’t want to send it. Someday, you’ll explain that one to me. (Laughter.)
But it’s been sent and it’s been used, and I’ve had so many people tell me how happy they were and how many lives it saved. We’ll never back down when it comes to protecting out police, ever. (Applause.) Ever.
In my administration, we strongly condemn hateful anti-police rhetoric. And you’re hearing it. You’re hearing it. We don’t understand it. We don’t think it’s even possible that they can think or feel this way. But there are some people out there that do.
In recent years, another dangerous trend has begun. A number of prosecutors in cities such as Philadelphia and Chicago have decided not to prosecute many criminals who pose a severe threat to public safety and community wellbeing. Every prosecutor takes an oath to uphold the law, not to advance a political agenda. (Applause.)
Last year, in Philadelphia, a robber shot and gravely injured a deli owner. He was a good man. He’ll never be the same. But he may serve — this criminal — a sentence that is very short. In fact, they’re looking at about three years, if you can believe this. Three years.
Dangerous criminals must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. That’s the only language they understand. (Applause.) And those who file false police reports should face full legal consequences. (Applause.)
Every American child deserves to grow up in a community that’s secure and safe from violence, and free of fear. Here with us today is the family of California Police Officer Ronil Singh. And I’ve gotten to know his family; they’re an incredible family. They just left the Oval Office. We took pictures. And it’s not an easy situation, what they’re going through. Frankly, they’re going through hell.
Ronil came to this country legally in 2003 with the dream of earning the badge of an American police officer. That was always his dream. And that’s exactly what Ronil did: He devoted his life to defending the laws of our country.
On Christmas night, he took a picture in front of the family Christmas tree with his beautiful wife, their beloved son, and Sam, their loyal police dog. It’s a picture that all of us saw. I remember it so vividly. I’ll never forget it. I didn’t know I’d get to know the family and greet the family and show the family the Lincoln bedroom at the White House. I didn’t know that. But it’s an extraordinary family. But I’ll never forget the picture.
Then, Corporal Singh headed out on duty — which he loved — to protect and to serve. You all know the story. Because hours later, he was gunned down and killed during a simple traffic stop. He was a vicious killer, this man that crossed into our country from the border just a little while before. A vicious killer that could’ve been kept out with border security, with the wall, with whatever the hell it takes. (Applause.) Could’ve been kept out.
But we’re getting it there. We’re building the wall. We’re beefing up like you wouldn’t believe. The military has come into action. People are trying to come into our country illegally because our country is doing well. They can’t come in illegally. They have to come in through the legal system. They have to come in through merit. They can’t come in like this killer came in — just rode across the border, went through every sign he could go through.
But the family is special. Ronil was special. And today we’re really grateful to be joined by Corporal Singh’s wife Anamika and their precious 10-month-old son Arnav. Where are you? They’re right here someplace. Stand up, please. (Applause.)
And also here are his great parents, Rohini and Veer, and his brother. Where is Reggie? His brother, Reggie. (Applause.) What a great family. Reggie, come up here, will you, please? Come on up. Come on.
This is unexpected, but this family, I tell you, I’ve — you know, you get to know some people. Come on up. They may let you up. I think so. (Laughter.) I think Reggie is okay. Come on up, Reg.
How about bringing that beautiful boy up? Come on up. Come on. Mrs. Singh, come up. (Applause.) Come on up. You know what? How about mom and dad, too? Come on up, mom and dad, and wife and baby. Come on up. Come. This is an incredible family. (Applause.)
That’s great. Got to see it to understand what it’s all about. It’s hard to imagine what they’ve been through. Hard to imagine. Come on up, Reg. You didn’t know you’d be doing this, Reggie. Sorry, Reggie. (Laughter.)
MR. SINGH: I am the brother of Corporal Ronil Singh. I’d like to thank every single law enforcement officer over here. What you guys go through — I heard stories from my brother.
This man over here, the Singh family supports him. Whatever he is doing for the law enforcement, we support him. (Applause.) His team at the White House has reached out to us multiple times. Multiple times. I don’t think that ever happened before. Ever. This man is amazing, and my family supports him. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. SINGH: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m proud of you.
MR. SINGH: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Want to say something? Want to say? Thank you, sweetheart. So cute. (Laughter.)
Thank you very much, folks. Thank you. Please. Thank you. You take care of yourself. Great job. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MRS. SINGH: Actually, I do want to say something.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh. She said, “No. No, I don’t want to speak. Actually, I do.” I like that. (Laughter.) I think that’s great.
MRS. SINGH: It’s something I didn’t get to do at the office. I actually want to thank you personally for — you’re the only one that actually reached out and said — gave your condolence to the family. And it actually means a lot to all of our law enforcement families that are here. For the sacrifice my husband and his brothers in blue, in (inaudible) blue, have given.
So I want to thank you for that. And we all — every family sitting out here wants justice for what happened to their loved ones. And that’s what I want for my husband. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. That’s really (inaudible). Thank you.
Thank you very much. So beautiful. Such a beautiful family. And there will be justice. Justice will happen. We have the people, and we have the spirit, we have the mindset. We’re taking care of our law enforcement officers and we’re taking care of everybody.
But we cannot imagine your pain — I mean, doing that — just doing that, Reggie, thank you very much — fathom what you’ve been through. But we pledge to you the unwavering love and support and devotion of this entire nation. We have a great nation, and it’s getting better and better every day. It’s getting stronger. We’re not relying on outside forces and outside countries that don’t really care about us, other than to take advantage of our people and our system. And our nation is strong again and getting stronger every single minute.
Joining the Singhs are more than 10 other family members and close friends, along with 22 of his fellow officers. Please stand, would you? Please stand. Twenty-two officers. Thank you. (Applause.)
So, was he as great as they say? Huh? He was.
THE PRESIDENT: He was. I had a feeling you might say that. He was. That’s what I hear from everybody. Good. Thank you very much for being here. We appreciate it.
You remind us all that when our heroes fall, our communities stand together as one. They get stronger. We’ll always remember Corporal Singh as a hero and a truly great American.
Not one more American life should be lost because our lawmakers failed to secure our borders. Tremendous problems are caused at the southern border — from drugs, to the wrong people being allowed to come in because of a corrupt and broken system that can be changed in 20 minutes — 20 minutes, if they want to change it.
In the meantime, we have to do it the tough way. And there’s no reason for that. That’s why we are calling on Congress to fix our terrible immigration laws, stop catch-and-release; you catch them and you release them. That doesn’t work too well with all these great officers I’m looking at. They never heard of a thing like that.
To end deadly sanctuary cities. To stop the visa lottery program, where they take lottery systems and a country will put you into a lottery and then deposit you into the United States. I don’t think most countries are giving us their finest. Do you agree? And that’s what’s happening. And it’s causing tremendous problems with crime and other things.
And I have to tell you, Border Patrol and ICE, and just law enforcement in general, the job they’ve done and the job they’re doing is incredible. What they have to go through — the bravery. I’ve gotten to know so many, especially at the border. And what they have to go through, and the danger, is incredible. But they do it. And to them, it’s something they love to do. They feel they’re doing it for their country. They love to do it. And they do it well.
To every mom and dad, brother and sister, spouse and child of the brave fallen officers we honor today, America joins together in expressing our love and our gratitude, our grief, and our firm resolve to be with you every single step of the way. We will never let you down.
Your loved ones were the finest and the bravest. And they’re all looking down. Right now, they’re looking down on their families. Every time they put on the badge, they knew they might not make it home. And so did their families know that. Each time they went on a shift, they knew it could be their very last. And when that time came where they knew there was danger, when evil lurked, they did not run, they did not hide. They always ran forward. They answered the call. They gave their lives for all of us.
The men and women of law enforcement devote their lives to protecting our children, securing our streets, and keeping our communities safe. Moms and dads can sleep soundly at night, kids can play with neighbors outside, and grandparents can feel at peace in their homes because they know America’s officers are the absolute best and they’re always on the beat.
The courage and sacrifice of our heroes is the reason our flag stands tall and bravely, our hearts beat with pride, and our country remains one people, one family, and one nation under God. (Applause.)
Today, we thank you, we honor you, and we forever cherish the memory of our fallen men and women in blue. You are very special people. There are nobody like you. Nobody.
God bless you. God bless our law enforcement. God bless the fallen. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
12:18 P.M. EDT