President Trump told police officers Wednesday that his border policies will protect cops on the beat by keeping out criminals, and he said people convicted of ambushing and killing officers should always get the death penalty.
Speaking to officers gathered at the Capitol for National Police Week, Mr. Trump also trumpeted his move to ship more military equipment to local police departments and touted a decline in ambush deaths over the last two years.
“We believe that criminals who murder police officers should immediately, with trial, get the death penalty — but quickly. The trial should go fast,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s happening. Fair but fast, right?”
He bemoaned light penalties that big-city prosecutors have given violent criminals and slammed those who cry wolf to the police — seemingly a reference to Jussie Smollett, the “Empire” actor accused by Chicago police of staging the well-publicized attack he reported in January.
“Those who file false police reports should face full legal consequences,” Mr. Trump said to lengthy applause at the 38th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service.
A large crowd of officers and their families attended the event, along with Attorney General William Barr and other members of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet. Two Democratic Party leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, also were at the event.
Mr. Trump has closely aligned himself with law enforcement since his 2016 campaign, when he ran on a law-and-order platform.
That marked a significant shift from the Obama administration, which focused on officer-involved shootings and racial tensions between police and the communities they patrolled.
Mr. Trump instead highlighted verbal attacks on officers and the life-threatening risks they face on patrol.
“We strongly condemn hateful anti-police rhetoric. And you’re hearing it. You’re hearing it,” he said. “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.”
And he tied policing and officer safety back to controlling illegal immigration.
In a dramatic moment, Mr. Trump called the family of Ronil Singh — a California police officer killed during a traffic stop in December — onto the stage. Police say the man accused of killing Singh was a Mexican immigrant who illegally sneaked into the U.S. via the Arizona border.
“They can’t come in like this killer came in — just rode across the border, went through every sign he could go through,” the president said.
At the microphone Singh’s widow, Anamika Singh, and brother, Reggie Singh, thanked Mr. Trump for reaching out after the shooting.
“This man over here, the Singh family supports him,” Mr. Singh said. “Whatever he is doing for the law enforcement, we support him.”
Mr. Trump also recognized the families of more than 80 officers who in recent years died from exposure to toxic debris following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“I can tell you I live in that city, and lived in that city during that time, and the job they did was incredible,” Mr. Trump said.
The president offered his keynote speech after Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said it’s harder than ever to be a police officer, saying they’ve become the targets of “scorn and disrespect.”
“Mr. President, you have never wavered in your support,” he said.
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