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Youngstown Police Department
Youngstown, Ohio

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Thank you for the — thank you for the warm welcome. But first and foremost, let me say: I had to stop by the Youngstown Police Department at the shift change to make it clear to each and every one of you, on behalf of the President of the United States and on behalf of a grateful nation, that we stand with the men and women of law enforcement and we always will. I promise you that. (Applause.)

I want to thank Chief Robin Lees for your leadership and for the great example that this department has provided. I know you’re at a shift change; some of you are coming on, and some of you’re coming off. But I still couldn’t resist the opportunity to come by and just say thank you to the Youngstown Police Department for the example that you’re setting in community relations and in demonstrating that we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and supporting our African American community. We can support law enforcement, we can support our African American community, we can come together around better public safety. And that’s what law enforcement want, and that’s what every American wants. (Applause.)

And to each and every one of you, I just simply want to say thanks. Thank you for what you do every day, you know. And I want to assure you that the American people know — the American people know that most of you who put on the uniform of law enforcement every day are the best people in this country. You put on that uniform, and you walk out, you leave your families behind, and you protect and serve. You count our lives as more important than your own, and every American cherishes that.

But I think they also know that you are always looking to improve public safety. I think we all recognize — every American, I believe in my heart, knows that what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy. And there’s no excuse for what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis, but there’s also no excuse for the rioting and the violence and the looting and the attacks on law enforcement that have followed. (Applause.)

I mean, justice will be served in that case. But I want to I want to pledge to each one of you: We’re also going to look for ways to provide more resources to departments just like this one here in Youngstown. And you all have been setting an example, in an innovative program here, about use of force training and de-escalation.

And I just wanted to come by. And to Chief — Chief Lees, and to your mayor, and to everyone involved in this department, I wanted to say thank you for setting the example — the way members of this department have to take a training exam every year, and the way — I think, most inspirationally — you’ve opened up the training to the public and to community leaders like Derrick McDowell.

And I want to thank Derrick, who I know is with us here today. Thank you for leaning in. Thank you for supporting law enforcement and improving public safety for all the people in this community, Derrick. We’re truly grateful. (Applause.)

I also know that the Youngstown Police has been a great partner in reducing crime with a man who has been leading efforts, mentoring countless young men here in Youngstown for some time. He’s the head of the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence and I know he’s working with each and every one of you to make our streets safer each and every day. Join me in thanking Guy Burney. Guy, where are you? (Applause.)

You’ve also had a strong partner, Chief, I’m told, in a local football coach —

CHIEF LEES: Yes, sir.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: — who’s been working with you and who has invited Youngstown police officers to work out with his team and to build the kind of relationships with players at Chaney High School that will facilitate stronger bonds between those who protect and serve and those who are served.

And so I just also — I was inspired to hear about it, but I wanted to thank Chaney High School, and especially Coach Chris Amill. Where are you, Coach? Great job. That’s great leadership. (Applause.) It really is inspiring.

In each one of these cases, the Youngstown Police Department has been setting an example not just here in Ohio, but all across the country — an example of a commitment to improving policing in the community, but doing it in a way that is continuously strengthening ties with all of our citizens.

I mean, the reality is that I never met a police officer that didn’t want to do better. You all answered the call to serve — to serve your community. And the way you’ve stepped up here and the way the Youngstown Police Department is leading by example is making a real difference for the country.

And I want to promise you: We’re going to continue to work. As you saw, President Trump, a little more than a week ago, signed an executive order to make more resources available for training on the use of force to create greater accountability.

You know, my uncle was a police officer in Chicago for 25 years, and I know nobody hates bad cops more than good cops. And I want to promise you that, in the days ahead, we’re going to be looking for ways to provide more resources to the law enforcement community, to have the kind of training and the accountability that each and every one of you desire and aspire to make real in your careers.

And let me be very clear on one point: There are some in the public debate who think we’ve got to choose between supporting law enforcement or supporting our African American neighbors. And what you’re doing here in Youngstown every day is showing we don’t have to make that choice. In fact, what we’re going to do is we’re going to support law enforcement and our African American families, and we’re going to bring our community, our state, and our nation together around better public safety. (Applause.)

So we’re not going to defund the police. We’re going to fund better policing and give you the tools and the resources — and, frankly, give other departments around the country to do exactly what you’re doing here in Youngstown — to look for new and innovative ways to build the bonds in the community to advance public safety.

But I want to say — beyond this gathering of courageous law enforcement officers, I want to say to all the citizens of Youngstown and people across the country that as we look for ways to improve public safety, we’re not going to stop there.

I mean, I couldn’t be more proud to be part of an administration that, before this coronavirus pandemic struck, we had achieved the lowest unemployment level ever recorded for African Americans in the United States. We signed into law the highest funding ever for historically black colleges and universities. Working with Senator Tim Scott, we’ve created thousands of Opportunity Zones that would create investment and jobs in many of our inner-city communities that have been left behind for too long when it came to economic growth.

And we’ve been championing educational choice. We think every parent ought to be able to choose where their children go to school, regardless of their income or their area code. So, educational opportunities, from K through 12 to higher education; more jobs and opportunities; and better public safety — that’s what the American people want, that’s what law enforcement wants, that’s what our African American community wants, and that’s what we’re going to do in Youngstown, in Ohio, and all across America. (Applause.)

So, let me just say again to Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees, to Captain Mercer, and to each and every one of you: Thank you for your service. Thank you for your example. Thank you for stepping forward in a challenging time in the life of our nation and doing your jobs with integrity and selflessness. And just know, as you do your jobs every single day, you have the support of the American people and their admiration. And I am confident that you have the prayers of tens of millions of people across Ohio and across this country.

Because we see among you men and women who — as I said before and I’ll say one more time — who’ve stepped forward; who’ve answered a call to serve; who’ve been willing to, as the Old Book says, to bear the sword, to uphold law and order.

And I want to promise you, on behalf of your President and all those millions of Americans: We will continue to stand with the men and women of law enforcement. We will continue to look for ways to improve what you do every day and to improve the lives of our African American citizens and every American. So help us God.

Thank you very much. And God bless you.