By Nandita Bose
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden attended a memorial service on Saturday at the United States Capitol to honor law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2019 and 2020.
The White House has also issued a proclamation ordering flags to be flown at half-staff at public buildings on Saturday.
The National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service began in 1982 as a small gathering in Washington’s Senate Park of approximately 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement. It has since turned into a series of events, attracting thousands of survivors and officers to the nation’s capital each year.
Biden has been a loyal ally to law enforcement, dating back to his days in the Senate when he crafted the 1994 crime bill with their help. Earlier this year, the president visited the Capitol to pay his respects to Brian Sicknick, a police officer who died of multiple strokes after being sprayed with a chemical during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
However, the president’s efforts to pass a police reform bill to tighten practices following the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis failed in September https://www.reuters.com/world/us/republicans-are-refusing-back-police-reforms-trump-supported-white-house-2021-09-22. That marked a setback for the Democratic president, who campaigned on the need for policing reforms.
Since then, Biden has expressed hope that he can still sign a comprehensive police reform bill into law, and indicated in statements at the time that Democrats might have to do that on their own.
Biden has also said he will look into further executive actions https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-wants-keep-working-police-reform-bill-willing-take-executive-action-2021-09-22 he can take to help hold police officers accountable for breaking the law.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)