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Biden speaks at the police memorial in an effort to shore up support as unions back Trump

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By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) – President Joe Biden will address a large gathering of police officers on Wednesday as he tries to avoid rivalry Donald Trump may not be able to secure high-profile endorsements from their unions in the coming weeks.

The speech at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, an annual event at the U.S. Capitol honoring slain officers across the country, offers Biden a chance to speak directly to law enforcement as he takes on Trump in the 5 presidential election November.

Some Biden campaign officials say privately that Democrats are losing support among rank-and-file police officers who see the Democratic Party as soft on crime and biased against police when their actions on the job come under public scrutiny.

Trump has already received support from statewide police unions in Michigan and Florida. The National Fraternal Order of Police and the New York City police union, both of which endorsed Trump in 2020, have yet to announce their support. The FOP Foundation sponsors the memorial service on Wednesday.

In their case to law enforcement, Biden strategists highlight Trump’s public support for the January 6, 2021, violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, part of an effort to overturn his 2020 election defeat, as well as declining crime rates under Biden and the president . . union ties.

About 140 police officers were injured when thousands of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol. One Capitol Police officer died the next day. Four others later died by suicide.

“Donald Trump pretends to care about violence against police officers, but apparently not about those who lost their lives after being violently attacked by his supporters,” Biden campaign spokesman TJ Ducklo said in a statement.

Biden has tried to occupy the center on law enforcement issues. He rejected calls from some liberals to “defund the police,” and instead called on local governments to use federal money to hire more officers from the communities they police.

Biden promised to enact laws to hold officers to a higher standard after high-profile killings of unarmed Black people, including the 2020 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, but those efforts have stalled amid a gridlock in Congress.

Allies have warned Biden’s campaign that it must convince voters that he is tough on crime. Recent FBI data showed significant declines in nearly every crime category last year, including homicides and violent crimes, from COVID pandemic-era highs.

But a Gallup poll last fall found that 63% of Americans said crime nationwide was “extremely” or “very” serious, up from 54% in 2021 and the highest in the survey’s history.

“Democrats have turned major American cities into cesspools of bloodshed and crime,” said Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt.

Despite the riot at the Capitol, police unions supported many more Republican candidates in the 2022 midterm elections than in the previous cycle.

Jim Tignanelli, president of the 12,000-member Police Officers Association of Michigan, said the union supported Trump for the 2024 race in part because of illegal migration under Biden, which he said has created a sense of lawlessness that has put police officers in danger brought. .

He also cited Trump’s pledge to grant police officers broad immunity from criminal prosecution and to impose the death penalty on criminals who kill on-duty police officers.

But former Capitol Police Officer Aquilini Gonell, 44, who was beaten by rioters on Jan. 6, said he was surprised that police officers turned a blind eye to Trump’s actions that day and after, including saying he would consider killing people to pardon the convicts. in connection with the attack on the Capitol.

“Only one candidate offers pardons to people who attacked police officers and advocates political violence. And that is Trump,” Gonell said.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Trevor Hunnicutt and Cynthia Osterman)