FBI National Academy
10:35 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Wow. (Applause.) Thank you very much, everybody. That’s a lot of years since the last President, and we’ll be back. (Laughter.) And thank you to Attorney General Sessions; thank you, Director Wray; Assistant Director Resch for hosting me here at the FBI National Academy to address our wonderful local police and sheriffs from all over America. A very special honor.
And it’s an honor to stand here today with the incredible men and women of law enforcement. Thank you. (Applause.)
We’re here to celebrate your graduation from the National Academy at Quantico. For over 80 years, this rigorous and world-renowned program has trained America’s most dedicated local law enforcement officers from all across the country. So respected. Let me begin by saying to each member of the graduating class: Congratulations.
You left home for 11 weeks to enroll in this program because you love your jobs, you love your communities, and you love your country.
Earlier this week, you completed the harrowing 6-mile “Yellow Brick Road.” Just signed that beautiful brick (Laughter.) I just signed that brick — designed for the Marines to push even the toughest to their limit.
You endured muddy waters, barbed-wire fences, icy creeks, steep hills, and so much more, knowing that your elite training will help save lives. The training you received at Quantico will give you that extra edge you need to defuse a threat, to disarm a criminal, and to deliver a child safely to her mother’s arms.
I am here not only to congratulate you, but to honor you for your courage and for your devotion. And I want you to know that with me as your President, America’s police will have a true friend and loyal champion in the White House — more loyal than anyone else can be, I tell you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
I also want to take a moment to speak to all of the law enforcement families here today. You make tremendous sacrifices. American families can sleep soundly at night because of the burden that you carry for all of us. So on behalf of all Americans, to every law enforcement family here today, and all across the nation: Thank you, thank you, thank you very much. (Applause.)
And you do that under the most difficult conditions. You very rarely get the recognition you deserve, I can tell you that. But your families know what you deserve, and ultimately, that’s the most important thing, isn’t it?
It’s not a news story when our officers save a life, rescue a family, or stop a crime. It’s just another day on the job. Yet, no matter the circumstances, you serve tirelessly, selflessly, and heroically. You do it because you really believe in doing your duty and doing it properly.
Being a police officer is not just a career, it’s a calling. And I’ve seen it. I have so many friends that are police officers — so many people in the FBI. These are great, great people. These are really heroes for all of us. So thank you very much. (Applause.) And as we, as a country, must do a better job showing our police officers the respect and gratitude that you have earned. And we will do that.
So when you return home to your local precincts, I want you to deliver a message to your fellow officers: The President of the United States has your back 100 percent. (Applause.) I will fight for you, and I will never, ever let you down — ever. Now, more than ever, we must support the men and women in blue.
In the last two years, America has seen a tragic rise in violent crime. In 2015 and 2016, we witnessed the steepest two-year consecutive increase in murders in nearly half a century.
And you look at what’s going on in Chicago. What the hell is going on in Chicago? (Laughter.) What the hell is happening there? (Applause.) For the second year in a row, a person was shot in Chicago every three hours. You don’t think these people in this room can stop that? They’d stop that. They’d stop it.
And just north of our nation’s capital, in Baltimore, on average, someone was murdered nearly every day of this year.
Police departments are overstretched, they’re underfunded, and they’re totally underappreciated — except by me. (Applause.) Instead of holding up our police as the role models and mentors they are, they have been subjected to malicious attacks on their character and integrity. This anti-police sentiment is wrong, and it’s dangerous, and we will not stand for it.
Most concerning of all, we have seen an alarming increase in violent assaults carried out against our police officers. Last year, an officer was assaulted in America, on average, every 10 minutes. In 2016, more than 140 officers lost their lives serving in the line of duty. These deaths fill our hearts with pain and with grief. Every drop of blood spilled from our men and women in blue is a wound inflicted on our nation. And when a brother or sister in uniform is hurt, on that day, all of America bleeds blue.
I want to send a message today to those who threaten violence against our police: We will protect those who protect us. And we believe criminals who kill police officers should get the death penalty. (Applause.)
One of my first executive orders as President instructed the Department of Justice to take all necessary steps and legal action to protect law enforcement from acts of violence against them.
The Department of Justice has also announced more than $98 million in grant funding to help your local police departments hire desperately needed new officers. Also, just as I promised, we are allowing our local police to access surplus military equipment — something the previous administration, for some reason, refused to do. (Applause.) Explain that one. Explain it to me, please. Never understood that one. Somebody out there can explain. Anybody want to stand up and explain it? It’d be tough. (Laughter.)
If we want to bring down violent crime, then we must stand up for our police. All of us gathered here today share a common goal. We want every child to be able to walk safely home from school, and we want every mother and father to know their children will be secure when they tuck them in at night.
No family should have to worry about bullets flying through windows, or gangs recruiting on street corners. Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, surrounded by a loving family, and preparing to embark on a bright, beautiful future.
As President, my greatest duty is to protect our nation and to protect our people. As we have witnessed recently, America faces grave threats. Terrorists have struck in the streets and subways of New York City twice in a few months. Both terrorists came to our country through the dysfunctional immigration system that we are correcting, and rapidly. And one came through chain migration — chain migration; the other, visa lottery.
They have a lottery. You pick people. Do you think the country is giving us their best people? No. (Laughter.) What kind of a system is that? They come in by lottery. They give us their worst people, they put them in a bin, but in his hand, when he’s picking them is, really, the worst of the worst. Congratulations, you’re going to the United States. Okay. (Laughter.) What a system — lottery system.
We’re calling for Congress to end chain migration and to end the visa lottery system, and replace it with a merit-based system of immigration. (Applause.) We want a system that puts the needs of American families, taxpayers, and security first.
That is why I have also directed the federal government law enforcement to work closely with our state and local police to destroy criminal cartels like the savages of MS-13. (Applause.)
Already this year, the Department of Justice has worked with partners in Central America to arrest and charge roughly 4,000 MS-13 members. And the Department of Homeland Security has arrested nearly 800 MS-13 gang members and associates, an 83 percent increase from the previous year, and we’re much higher this year than we were last year. And we’ll get rid of them completely very soon, right? Right? They’re working hard. (Applause.)
Earlier this year, ICE officers conducted the largest crackdown on criminal gangs in the history of our country. In just six weeks, ICE — these are great people too; great people — and the Border Patrol agents — great people — and our law enforcement partners arrested nearly 1,400 suspects and seized more than 200 illegal firearms and nearly 600 rounds of narcotics — over 600 pounds. That’s a lot of stuff. Recently, prosecutions of criminal firearm possessions were up 23 percent.
To any member of MS-13 listening, I have a message for you: We will find you. We will arrest you. We will jail you. We will throw you the hell out of the country. (Laughter.) I mean, somehow, I like it better than jail. Jail we have to take care of them. Who the hell wants to take care of them? (Applause.) You know the jail stuff is wonderful but we have to pay for it, right? (Laughter.)
But these are killers, these are people that are sadists in many cases. We don’t want them. We don’t want them. They’re getting out of here.
Our cities should not be sanctuaries for criminals; they should be sanctuaries for Americans. It is our duty to serve the hardworking citizens of our country who raise our families, cherish our values, salute our flag, and make this land our home. These are the citizens you represent, and these are the citizens you courageously protect.
By the way, you are great people. You are incredible people. Just so you understand, you are great people doing an incredible job. But I hope your families know that. I’d say 90 percent of — probably 90 percent agree, right? (Laughter.) The other 10 percent, that’s not working out so well. (Laughter.)
We heard from one such hero among us earlier today, your class spokesperson, DEA Officer Craig Wiles. It is truly amazing to see Craig’s father sitting in the very seat where Craig himself sat 40 years ago, when he was just 15 years old. Where is his father, by the way? Where is his father? Where is your father? There he is. (Applause.) He’s better looking than you, by the way. (Laughter.) It’s a great story though. It’s fantastic. Thank you for being here. That’s really nice. You proud of your son, right? Good. So am I.
That day, Craig watched his father speak at this podium. When he listened to his father’s words, he was filled with pride and such devotion that, at that moment, he too decided to become a law enforcement officer. Terrific.
Today, it’s incredible that his own children have joined us for this special moment. His daughter, Ashley, is carrying on the legacy of her father and grandfather. She now serves in law enforcement at the FBI. His son, Austin, is in college. And no matter what he chooses to do, I think we can confidently — and we really can, with great confidence — say that, this, he will always be better because of his father’s lifelong example of selflessness and courage, and of love. So, thank you, Craig and your family. It’s a terrific story and really is a great honor to be with you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
But as I look out in the audience today, I see many young, bright faces. To them, and to many other young Americans watching at home, of which there are many — you see, there’s the fake news back there. Look, everybody. (Laughter.) Fake news. No, actually, some of them are fine people. (Laughter.) About — let’s see, who’s back there? Yeah, about 30 percent. (Laughter.)
You are the men and women who teach them what it means to be a police officer. You are always there for us. The men and women in blue, in the dark of night, in the rush of danger, you break down doors, race down alleys, chase down suspects, and bring down criminals. And you do it with strength and skill and pride.
There’s a reason that your children look up to you with their eyes full of awe and full of wonder. There’s a reason that they rush to the window just to catch a glimpse of your sirens flashing by. Because to them, and to all of us, and to me, you are the guardians who keep us safe, who ward off danger, and who confront evil so that the good will always prevail.
You represent the best of America. And you leave us with a debt we can never hope to repay.
Today, we honor you, we thank you, and we know that by your example, some of the children here today and watching at home will be inspired to fill your shoes, to continue your service, to follow in your footsteps, and to take the oath, to carry the badge, to wear the shield, and to join the ranks of heroes.
Thank you to our police, thank you to our sheriffs, thank you to the FBI, and thank you to our law enforcement families. God bless you all. Thank you very much. (Applause.)