President Donald Trump delivers a speech at the 37th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service being held Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Chuck. I want to start by saying that Melania is in the hospital doing really well. She’s watching us right now. And I want to thank the incredible doctors — Walter Reed Medical Center. They did a fantastic job. So thank you. (Applause.) And she sends her love.
I also want to thank Jim Pasco, Linda Hennie, Chaplain Wiggins, and everyone at the Fraternal Order of Police and all you do to ensure our brave people that we’re so proud of — we are honored to have these cherished officers, and we’re honored to have all of you with us today. And it’s my great honor to be here for the second time. And I’ll see you, I guess, about another six times. And then, after that, perhaps — (applause) — perhaps you’ll have had enough. (Laughs.)
We stand with our police and we stand with you 100 percent. And I think we’ve shown that. Vice President Pence, members of my Cabinet, members of Congress, and distinguished guests: Thank you for joining us on one of the most important and solemn occasions of the year: the day we pay tribute to law enforcement heroes — and that’s what they are, heroes — who gave their lives in the line of duty. They made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live in safety and in peace.
To the families and survivors with us this morning, I know today is filled with sadness and pain. But today is also filled with love — the love of an entire nation wrapped its arms. And they have wrapped their arms right around you. They love you. They’re praying for you, they’re grieving with you, and pledging to you that we will never forget our heroes, ever. (Applause.) And thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) You know what I mean. You know what I mean. They’re looking down and they’re proud of you, and they love you so much. Thank you.
This morning, I especially want to speak to the young sons and daughters who join us here today. I want you to know that your moms and dads were among the bravest Americans to ever live.
When danger came, when darkness fell, when destruction loomed, they did not flinch. They were not afraid. They did not falter. They stared down danger, raced down alleys, chased down criminals, kicked down doors, and faced down evil. Brave. And they did it all with courage, with dignity, with pride, with love for their nation and with love for their families. They lived every day of their lives by that most sacred calling: “to serve and protect.”
Their immortal legacy lives on in each and every one of you. Their strength lives in your soul, their courage glows in your heart, and their blood flows in your veins. And today, every American heart bleeds blue. (Applause.) That’s for sure.
This morning, I want to share with you, the American people, a few stories about the heroes we have gathered to celebrate and remember.
With us today is the family of Lieutenant Aaron Allan –special — of the Southport Police Department in Indiana, his wife Stacy, and his two sons, TJ and Aaron. Where are they? Where are they? Where are they? Yes. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
Lieutenant Allan was an Air Force veteran. After his service, he followed his childhood dream to become a police officer. He served in law enforcement for 20 years. No job was too great; no job was too small. He took extra shifts at night, and he was always available. He stopped by to say hello to members of his community. During Christmastime, he took children in need shopping for presents. He was always there for anybody that needed him. In 2015, he was given the Officer of the Year Award after saving two lives.
Last year, Lieutenant Allan walked his son to the bus for his first day of kindergarten. Just hours later, Lieutenant Allan was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Since then, the whole Southport community has come together to support the Allan family. And I hear that if you go to the police station, you’ll find that 6-year-old Aaron Jr. — and he’s up there, and he’s giving orders. And he is respected and loved by everybody there. And his father was a true hero.
To Stacy, TJ, and Aaron, today, all of America sends you our love and our support. Allan will live in our hearts forever. Thank you. (Applause.) Incredible man.
Today we are also joined by Savannah and Ayzayah Hartfield, along with their amazing mom, Veronica. Where are you? Where are you? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) We honor their father and husband, Officer Charleston Hartfield of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. As many of you remember, Officer Hartfield was off duty attending a concert with Veronica, when that horrible shooting began in Las Vegas last October.
Officer Hartfield, an Army veteran, immediately leapt into action, rescuing the wounded and shielding the innocent. You all read about it. I remember it so well. As he did, he was shot and killed by rounds of gunfire. He knew he was right in the path, and it made no difference. He gave his life so that countless others could live.
Savannah and Ayzayah, your dad was a guardian angel to those in need. Now he is keeping watch on you from Heaven. Very special family and a very special man. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Also here with us today is the family of Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez from El Paso, Texas. Agent Martinez, known as “Roger” to his friends and family, worked on a dangerous part of the southern border — a part that you’ve been reading about so much lately, and a part that we’re doing a lot with.
Agent Martinez took immense pride and joy in serving his country as a Border Patrol agent. He was extremely proud of what he did. Every day, he would go to work and risk his life to keep America safe. Roger said he wanted to prevent terrorists and drugs from coming into our country — we all do and we’re going to get it done — but that’s exactly what he did. He bravely confronted the cartels, the smugglers, the human traffickers, the gangs that threaten our communities. One night, last November, Agent Martinez died in the line of duty. It was horrific. It was violent. And he was brave.
To Agent Martinez’s mom, Eliva, his son Sergio, and the entire Martinez family: Roger’s profound and unselfish love of country is an inspiration to every American — everybody here and everybody here, and to me, I can tell you. A great inspiration. (Applause.) Thank you. We will always remember Agent Martinez, and we will honor his noble sacrifice by continuing his vital mission.
The first duty of government is to protect our citizens, and the men and women of DHS are on the front lines of this incredible, heroic fight. That is why we are calling on Congress to secure our borders, support our border agents, stop sanctuary cities, and shut down policies that release violent criminals back into our communities. We don’t want it any longer. We’ve had it. Enough is enough. (Applause.)
Recently, MS-13 gang members called for the assassination of New York City police officers so the gang could, quote, “take back the streets.”
They got it wrong. We are the ones who are taking back the streets. We are getting them out of our country by the thousands. (Applause.) Every week, we’re setting new records on — we have a catch-and-release program, too. It’s called, we catch them and we release them in the country they came back from. (Applause.) We’re getting them out or we’re putting them in prison.
The Trump administration has a policy, and it’s very clear: We will protect those who protect us and who do such a great job in protecting us. (Applause.) That is why, as I promised all along, that we are allowing local police to access the surplus military equipment they need to protect our officers and law enforcement agents and save their lives. And they are taking equipment at a record clip. Millions and millions of dollars of surplus equipment is going to our police departments. (Applause.)
If we want to bring down violent crime, then we must stand up for our police. We must confront and condemn dangerous anti-police prejudice. Can you believe there’s prejudice with respect to our police? We’re not going to let bad things happen to our police. (Applause.) So we must show appreciation, gratitude, and respect for those who police our streets and patrol our communities.
In 2016, an officer was assaulted in America on an average of every 10 minutes — can you believe that? It’s outrageous and it’s unacceptable. We must end the attacks on our police and we must end them right now. (Applause.) We believe criminals who kill our police should get the death penalty. (Applause.) Bring it forth.
One of the most alarming crimes taking place against our police are ambush attacks. Think of that — ambush attacks. I have directed the Justice Department to do everything in its power to defend the lives of American law enforcement.
We are honored to be joined today by the family of Detective Miosotis Familia. (Applause.) Detective Familia was a proud member of the New York Police Department. Where is that family? Where is that great family? Great family. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Can you come up here? This is a great — come up here, please. Come on. I’d like to have this family. (Applause.) New York Police Department, close to my heart. Come on. Can you open those gates, please? (Applause.)
So I promised I wouldn’t tell you that she’s 90 years old. But you know what? She is really something, right? (Applause.) You look like 55, maybe? Fifty-five, huh? Boy, I’ll tell you what — you got up those stairs better than I did. (Laughter.) Thank you, sweetheart. Thank you.
So I just want to say, the officer just — say something. You know what I’d like you to do? Say how great she was. Come here. He’s done this before. (Applause.) Say how great she was. You just told me something, that this was a great partner. Go ahead. Don’t get nervous.
OFFICER MAHER: All right, that was unexpected. (Laughter.) Yes, my name is Officer Maher. I was Detective Familia’s partner the night she was killed. And I knew her for about 10 years. I worked with her on and off. This is a woman who got injured a while ago, and volunteered to come back to patrol to one of the roughest places in New York City. She volunteered to come back, to leave a cushy job, to come back to patrol. She was only there for about two weeks, and I had the honor of being with her that night. And she may have been lost that night, but she saved a lot of lives in turn because of her memory and everything that transpired after the fact. She was an incredible person, and she is missed by the family. This family is — forget it, they’re incredible. (Applause.) Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. These are special people. They’re just special, special people. And I want to tell you that, last year, just a few hours after the city of New York celebrated the Fourth of July, Detective Familia was on duty in her vehicle, not far from Yankee Stadium. Big Yankee fan? You’re all Yankee fans, right?
She was ambushed by a man for the simple reason that she was a member of the police department — she was a member of law enforcement. That was the simple reason. The attack, because she was so incredible, was just looked upon so horribly. Her family — when people met the family, they saw what an incredible person she was. I just want to say that, to your entire family, it’s such an honor to have you up here. We weren’t going to bring you up, but I looked at you in the audience and I said, you have to come up, because you’re representing something so important. You understand that. She loved the department. She loved being a police officer. She loved her job. She was respected by everybody. They told me all about her. She was respected by everybody.
So she’s right now, right there. And she’s looking down, and she’s so proud of you. She’s so proud of you. And you are great. You are great. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Stay. Yeah, we’ll go down together. Okay? I told them to stay. We’ll go down together. I’m almost finished. Right? We’ll go down together.
So to all the families here today who have lost a loved one, I’d like to ask you to all please stand. Please stand. You lost mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters. And America lost incredible heroes. But they will endure forever — forever and ever — you know that. They’re going to endure for — she’s going to endure forever. She will endure forever, in our memories and our hearts and in the countless lives they touched through their courage and through their grace. Their legacy will never die. Your mom’s legacy will never, ever die. You have good genes. Right? Good genes. The best genes I’ve ever seen. (Laughter.)
In a moment, we will listen to the roll call of these great, fallen officers. As we read the names of your loved ones, we engrave them into the eternal chronicle of American valor. And when that siren blares, when the squad car races down the street, when the police officer steps forth confident and proud and strong — so brave in that crisp, blue uniform — we will think of you. We will think of your incredible daughter. We will be thinking of her. We will be thinking of all of the heroes we lost, and we will thank God for the men and women of law enforcement.
Thanks again to all of our wonderful police, our sheriffs, and all of law enforcement and law enforcement officers. You’re incredible people. You are the finest. You are the greatest. You are our heroes.
God bless you. God bless our fallen heroes. God bless their families. And God bless America. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)