Biden to Cops: ‘We Expect You to Be Constitutional Scholars’

Vice President Joe Biden praised police officers for their sacrifice, saying that Americans expect cops to do everything, including making no mistakes during times of crisis and being constitutional scholars.

“You're a remarkable, remarkable group of women and men and as you know – because I’ve been with you for a long, long time – we’ve all attended too damn many funerals together and fortunately a whole lot more celebrations. I find I get the same answer every time I say to you congratulations, thanks for your courage.  You all say essentially the same exact thing. You say, sir, just doing my job, sir,” Biden said at the National Association of Police Organizations’ TOP COPS award ceremony.

“What a job and what shape we’d be in as a nation if we didn't have you doing that job. We expect you to do everything. We expect you to be constitutional scholars.  We expect you to have instantaneous reactions to a crisis without making any mistake, without knowing what’s behind that door, what’s in that guy’s pocket. And when you make a mistake we come down on you like a ton of bricks but you still do your job.”

According to the NAPO, officers nominate their colleagues for outstanding service during the previous calendar year. A selection committee of national law enforcement representatives chooses one case from each state and U.S. territory. The cases are ranked and the top 10 attend the TOP COPS ceremony in Washington.

“I try to explain to people -– because they know my relationship from the time I was a kid with law enforcement -- I try to explain to people that being a cop is not what you do –- it’s who you are. It’s who you are. It’s stamped into your DNA. I don’t know each of you personally, but I know you. I know you well,” Biden said at the ceremony.

“You’re the same guys and women I grew up with in Scranton and Claymont who would always step in when a kid was being bullied, even if there were four guys.  You’re always the guys, no matter what the number, you jumped in, always having somebody’s back. You're the same ones after working all day go out and volunteer to line the Little League field when the season opens.”

Biden continued, “You're the same guys who do fundraisers -- not just for your fallen officers you work with, but for victims and their families. Who else does that besides you?”

Biden mentioned law enforcement personnel by name who died in the line of duty, including Allen Beck, Igor Soldo, Casey Kohlmeier and Brian Jones.

“They are not here to receive our thanks and our appreciation, although they're here. But I want to personally thank their families,” he said.

The former senator from Delaware said it has been an honor to fight with the NAPO to pass the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Act in 1976 and to expand it in 2001.

“With Senator Hatch, a good Republican friend of mine, we raised that death benefit from $150,000 to $250,000, and then most importantly, we later indexed it, so it’s now $339,000,” he said. “But you all know it could be $10 million. It’s not enough. It’s not enough. It’s not enough to make up for the loss of a fallen cop.”

Shortly after the speech, the Obama administration announced its decision to ban federal agencies from providing certain types of military equipment to local police departments, including grenade launchers, bayonets and ammunition of .50-caliber or higher. Biden did not raise the issue during his remarks.

“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force, as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” Obama said during a speech in Camden, N.J. “We’re going to prohibit some equipment made for the battlefield that is not appropriate for local police departments.”