EXCLUSIVE: The head of one of the nation’s top law enforcement organizations is urging President Biden to strike a “positive” tone on policing during his upcoming State of the Union address to show support for the men and women risking their lives for the community as the profession deals with recruitment and retainment issues.
Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), told Fox News Digital he met with Attorney General Merrick Garland for a law enforcement roundtable Thursday. Other groups represented there were the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
Cosme called the more than 2½-hour meeting productive.
“I appreciate the open communication that Attorney General Garland has led with his team, his senior leadership team. I think it’s productive,” said Cosme.
The group discussed the administration’s May 2022 executive order on policing and the recent brutal killing in Memphis of Tyre Nichols that left five police officers charged in his death.
Cosme called what happened to Nichols “inhumane and indefensible.”
The topic of the State of the Union also came up during the meeting, and the police organization heads said the attorney general should urge the president to address the issue of policing to stress that the profession is “an honorable one.”
“I think what the No. 1 thing [the president] should be conveying is a positive message about the [law enforcement] profession and how the profession is a normal one. The profession is an honorable one,” Cosme told Fox News Digital.
“Both the men and women that do the job day in and day out are good, wholesome people. Like any and every occupation, you have bad apples. And those bad apples should be held accountable and dealt with,” he said.
“I think the message in the [State of the Union] should be: Listen, there are positive folks out there. There are good people out there that are willing to do this job for the betterment of the community that they serve, and that’s the American public,” Cosme said.
Cosme, who served for over 34 years in state and federal law enforcement before retiring, said the police force is facing issues with retention and recruitment. After Nichols’ death in Memphis, it has become more dire.
A fix would be for Biden to show “strong support for the efforts of law enforcement,” especially as crime continues to rise nationwide and as the country grapples with the fentanyl crisis.
Cosme also said support should be declared for border patrol officials, and federal funding for law enforcement should be at a level that allows it to “fulfill critical missions.”
“While the reality of the debt situation and the divided Congress means budget cuts may be inevitable this year, those cuts should not negatively impact public safety,” said Cosme. “Law enforcement requires adequate funding.”