Vice President Joe Biden is criticizing police officers for failing to be involved in their communities and instead jumping to conclusions about the intentions of young people.
“There’s bad apples in every bunch,” Biden said, referring to “some bad cops lately” that had made the news for their behavior.
During his speech, Biden ditched his prepared remarks and left the podium to stroll throughout the crowd, speaking frankly about police officers. He said he was speaking “from the heart” because he’s been following the issue for years.
Twice, Biden referred to police officers who mistakenly saw young people as being a “gangbanger.”
“The law enforcement officer in a tough neighborhood looks at a corner and sees a kid with dreadlocks and sees a gangbanger instead of a kid who has has an opportunity to be a great poet or author,” Biden said.
At another point, Biden remarked that some people were now afraid of letting their children out of their house because they might be “mistaken by a gang banger” by a police officer.
Biden’s remarks were at a “Champions of Change” event this afternoon, dedicated to “building bridges between youth and law enforcement.”
He was careful to note that the majority of police officers are “decent honorable women and men,” but pointed out that they weren’t being killed at a higher rate.
“Police now are feeling put upon,” he said. “Although the total number of police shot and killed is not up compared to what it was before, if you’re a local cop, you’re feeling kind of put upon in a lot of places.”
At one point Biden raised his wrist to show off a bracelet created by a young woman in the audience with the message, “I don’t commit violence, I speak out against it.”
“That’s a great idea kiddo, I’m not joking, because you’re exactly right,” he said.
Biden also asked the few police officers who attended the event to stand up and be recognized for their contributions to the conversation who were then applauded by the audience.
He also pointed out that police officers were not in support of controversial police activity like “Stop and Frisk” in New York City and driving around armored Humvees, alluding to communities in Ferguson, Missouri.
“The cop on the beat isn’t the one, they only care about what the elected officials tell them the law is, what they want to do,” he added.