9:56 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you to Attorney General Sessions for that warm welcome and warm introduction. And let me say — let me say thank you — thank you to this Attorney General for your leadership at the Department of Justice. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a law-and-order Attorney General. And I and the President are proud and honored to have him at our side. (Applause.)
It’s truly an honor to be here at the National Summit of Crime Reduction and Public Safety. And I’m bringing greetings this morning from a tireless champion of the men and women of law enforcement in the United States of America, the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
From the very start of this administration, President Trump has promised to support, in his words, the men and women of law enforcement and to support you strongly, and to protect every American’s right to live in safety and in peace. And since literally the first day of this administration, President Trump has been busy keeping that promise to the American people and all of you.
In one of his earliest acts, the President established the first-ever Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, with the goal of fostering collaboration between federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to improve the safety of our peace officers and the safety of the American people. This very summit is an extension of the President’s leadership and that task force efforts. And the discussions that you’re having will impact the policies of this administration and impact this country for years to come.
The President and I are pleased also, as all of you learned yesterday from Attorney General Sessions, that 12 cities have already joined the new National Public Safety Partnership with the Justice Department. The resources that will be available through this partnership will empower cities to identify the best tools and the best strategies to take on gangs, to take on the drug dealers, and take back their cities from the scourge of violent crime.
Let’s take a moment to congratulate the 12 chiefs of police who are here with us today who are providing that leadership in these 12 communities in America. We thank you. (Applause.)
And let me thank you all for attending this historic gathering. At every level of American law enforcement that’s represented here — and many important community groups are a part of the discussions that will take place — allow me to express the pride and appreciation of the dedicated public servants of the Justice Department in particular who are here with us today from the DEA, the ATF, the FBI, the United States Marshals Service, and of course, the United States Attorneys. Can we give them a round of applause? We are proud of these public servants and the service they provide to the American people. (Applause.)
And to all the advocates here today, especially the advocates for victims and the advocates for those who have fallen in the line of duty and their families, thank you. Just thank you for your compassion. Thank you for being here today. Thank you for pouring yourselves into the lives of the families of our fallen and those who have suffered the weight of violent crime in America. You make a difference every day, and your efforts, in my heart, are treasure in heaven. Let’s give them a round of applause. (Applause.)
And lastly, thank you to all the police chiefs, the sheriffs, the detectives, and other members of local, state, and tribal law enforcement who have traveled near and far to attend this summit. You are the best of us. And on behalf of President Donald Trump and the American people, thank you for the service that you and your families provide every single day to keep American families safe.
Just last week, the entire world was awed when two of your kind, in the midst of a terrible attack on a congressional baseball team, demonstrated the courage that men and women in law enforcement demonstrate every week across this country. As officers do all across America far too often, these two heroes rushed into danger without regard to their personal safety. It’s truly remarkable to hear the story.
I was speaking yesterday to a senator who was there on the scene. He talked about how the gunman rounded behind home plate, and there was literally nothing in between him and a dugout where there were members of Congress, and even the child of a member of Congress with nothing between them and the gunman with a semiautomatic weapon. And those two officers, both of whom were injured in the assault, simply ran straight at the gunman and took him down.
You know, as my wife and I told Officer Crystal Griner and her family last Thursday at the hospital, her extraordinary courage and the courage of Officer David Bailey saved lives and prevented an even greater tragedy. You know, we honor these heroes, but we also honor all those — like those of you gathered here today — at every level who stand in between us and the violence that besets our families and communities. Let’s give these heroes a round of applause. (Applause.)
You know, we support them by speaking of their courage, but we also support them by standing with them and standing with all of you, each and every day. And make no mistake about it, President Donald Trump stands without apology with the men and women of law enforcement in America, and he always will. (Applause.)
President Trump knows that to keep our streets and cities safe, our law enforcement officers need two things: resources and respect. And this President has taken decisive action to restore the tradition of respect and honor owed to law enforcement.
Speaking at the Peace Officers Memorial Service just last month, where we honored 234 heroes who gave their lives in the line of duty, President Trump denounced attacks on law enforcement, in his words, as “a stain on the very fabric of our society.” And he’s working every day to bring it to an end.
President Trump has directed the full force of the federal government to protect you, who protect us. And under the leadership of Attorney General Sessions and the Department of Justice, we’re already taking every available action to ensure the safety and security of our law enforcement officers.
In the budget he sent to Congress just last month, the President called for more than $500 million to support federal law enforcement, including the hiring of more than 300 new attorneys and judges to tackle violent crime and support immigration enforcement.
And President Trump also called for more than $5 billion in grant funding to support the men and women of law enforcement at the state, local, and tribal level. We will not rest until we ensure those of you who wear the uniform have the resources and the training to keep our families safe and go home safe to yours. (Applause.)
And it’s maybe more important now than ever before. The truth is, last year saw, actually, an increase in many of the worst types of violent crime. In our largest cities, crimes like robbery, rape, aggravated assault, and non-fatal shootings all rose in 2016 — in some places by double digits. And the year before that, the murder rate saw its largest increase since 1968, and in many urban areas it continues to climb.
Statistics don’t tell the story, though. Those of you who wear the uniform, those of you who walk a beat, those of you who are victims’ advocates know this: These aren’t numbers. These are people. These are families. These are shattered lives.
The President said not long ago, this violence must end. And under this administration’s leadership, and the President’s determination, and through your courageous service, we will bring this violence to an end.
President Trump has taken decisive action to restore law and order in our communities and keep our families and our children safe. It all, of course, starts with simply enforcing the law. President Trump has made it clear that it is the policy of this administration to enforce the laws of this country — no exception, no apology. (Applause.)
At the President’s direction, the Department of Justice will no longer let the worst offenders off easy. We’re once again pursuing the most serious readily available, provable charges for drug traffickers and violent criminals. (Applause.)
With the courageous efforts of all of you gathered here, our administration is also getting the most dangerous criminals off of America’s streets. A strike force in Denver recently took down one of the major drug trafficking groups in the western United States. A coordinated effort across five states caught more than 75 members of the Bloods, and a three-month campaign in San Diego took more than 140 gang members out of that community.
And as President Trump has pointed out, MS-13 is being decimated and going directly to prison, including more than 40 members of that vicious cartel who were arrested in New York City just a few days ago. (Applause.)
Under this President, he’s also made it clear that America’s borders are now closed to illegal immigration, to illegal drug and illicit drugs, and anyone who dares to threaten the well-being of the people of this country. He’s backed it up with action.
In the South Texas Corridor –- one of the main highways for illegal drugs — federal agents have seized more than twice as much cocaine and nearly three times as much heroin compared to this time last year. Across the entire border, there have been at least 87 major drug seizures in just the past month and a half.
And thanks to President Trump, and the efforts of law enforcement across the American Southwest, illegal crossings at America’s southern border are down nearly 70 percent since January 1 of this year. (Applause.)
Now the gains we’ve made because of your service and courage are encouraging. But the truth is, we still have a lot more to do to make this country safe again. And I can assure you, this administration is firmly committed to working with each and every one of you, to the agencies and departments that are represented here, to get the job done.
President Trump has vowed, in his words now, “to work with you, not against you”; to “support you, not undermine you.” And I can assure you, serving with him every single day and knowing how he feels about the men and women of law enforcement, that’s a promise you can count on every day, at every hour, under President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
The Attorney General, at the President’s direction, has already ordered the Department of Justice to support state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners in your joint mission to reduce crime and ensure safety. He’s also ordered the Department to review its agreements with your jurisdictions to promote local accountability and local control.
But these are only the first steps, not the last. We’re just getting started. To confront the violence besetting our streets in too many American cities, we must continue to strengthen the partnership between every level of law enforcement, from the federal government down to the smallest cities and towns and townships, and also with the community and advocacy groups that care so deeply about our people’s safety.
This very gathering is a testament to the President’s dedication to build a strong relationship with all of you and with the communities represented here. Your input is vital as this taskforce continues to craft its recommendations, which the Attorney General will present to the President in the coming months. And we want to work closely with you as we implement those recommendations in the months and years ahead.
We want to listen to you, we want to learn from you, and we want to advance the security of the American people because of you.
President Trump is supporting and standing with law enforcement at every level because he cares so deeply about the safety and security of the American people, and he knows we can make this country safe again.
This is about stopping drugs from entering our schools so that our children can shape their future. It’s about kicking gang members out of our parks and alleyways so our families can live and play and walk the streets in peace. It’s about protecting and respecting the courageous men and women who put on the uniform of law enforcement to serve our communities and keep us safe.
You know, this is very humbling for me to stand before you today, and it’s somewhat personal to my family. You know, I’ve never worn the uniform of law enforcement, but I grew up with an uncle who was a cop in Chicago. He was one of the heroes of my youth. And when we would travel from our small town in southern Indiana up to Chicago, one of the people we would be most excited to see was my uncle, in uniform, with his sidearm. And we would see that resolve as he’d walk out the door of my grandparents’ home and go to work.
We were filled with pride and, frankly, in awe of my uncle and the courage that he showed every day, putting his life on the line for people he didn’t even know, and then coming home as though it was just a job. Truly inspiring. It shaped my youth; it truly did.
And I’ve always had that view of law enforcement officers ever since. You know, I’m mindful of a story in the Old Book that there was encounter that took place between a Centurion and a Nazorean. It’s a great story, where a Centurion had approached the Nazorean in a little place called Capernaum. He had someone in household who was sick, and he asked for help. And as the Nazorean started to walk with him, he said, you don’t need to come with me. He said, I’m a man under authority. He said, I tell one person to do this, they do it. Tell another to do this, he does it. He says, you only say the word, and that young one will be healed.
And he said in that moment words that I thought I could relate to, as he stood and he looked at that peace officer with a sword at his side and said that Jesus was astonished.
You know, when I see people that put on a sidearm every morning, men and women who walk out — give their families a kiss on the cheek and walk out to protect our families, I feel the same way. I’m just in awe. I’m in awe of people who answer a call of service in their life that puts the interest of others, the very lives of others, ahead of their own.
When I was Governor of Indiana, I was never more humbled than when I stood at a swearing-in — a ceremony. I was never more grieved than when I attended a funeral of one of those deputy sheriffs who had been sworn in at an occasion that I attended. The American people are deeply grateful for the service that all of you render.
So to all of you here today — to the police officers, sheriffs, detectives, deputies, agents, prosecutors, and every other member of the law enforcement community — just know that whatever happens in the public debate from time to time, when tragedy strikes and people sometimes assume the worst, that this President, this administration, and the people of this country know you are heroes all.
You have the appreciation of the American people. And I promise you, you have the gratitude and resolve of our President and our determination to give you the resources you need and the respect you deserve as you protect and serve.
And you have our prayers. For all of you in this room, and all that you lead back home, and all the departments and all the agencies, may God protect you as you protect our families.
We’ve got a lot of work to do. But I say with confidence that with President Donald Trump in the White House, with the extraordinary service of the men and women of law enforcement in this country, and with God’s grace, together we will make America safe again.
Thank you. God bless you. (Applause.) And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
10:15 A.M. EDT