Speaking at the 32nd annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service on Wednesday, President Barack Obama publicly honored, among others, officer Bruce St. Laurent, who died last year assisting Obama's motorcade in Florida.
Laurent, a husband and father of four, was killed Sept. 9 when his police motorcycle was struck by a pickup truck as he was closing access to a highway in Palm Beach County.
"He was, according to a friend, 'just what a cop should be: tough compassionate, caring and brave.' But to his community, he was more than a cop," Obama said, noting that St. Laurent had survived cancer, served as a high school teacher and an unofficial snake wrangler, and enjoyed playing Santa Claus for children at Christmastime.
Obama delivered his remarks as part of a memorial held annually on Capitol Hill for National Police Week in Washington, which began in 1982 as a gathering in Senate Park to honor fallen officers. A total of 143 officers were honored at this year's ceremony.
In addition to St. Laurent, Obama noted by name fallen officers Barbara A. Pill of Brevard County, Fla., who Obama said long worked to help her community; Bradley Michael Fox of Plymouth Township, Pa., who served two tours in Iraq; and Scott Ward of Baldwin County, Ala., a military veteran whose funeral procession "stretched for miles," the president said.
Obama urged the country to honor officers not "only in the wake of tragedy. We should do it every day."
The president on Saturday hosted an annual Police Week ceremony at the White House where he honored 43 officers designated as "Top Cops" by their peers.
There, Obama invoked those who helped bring the Boston Marathon suspects to justice:
Our entire country saw once again the strong stuff that these men and women in uniform are made of—police officers, first responders who were running towards explosions, not knowing if there was something more on the way—law enforcement from different agencies and different parts of the country working together as one united team to identify suspects and bring them to justice, and in a moment that few of us will ever forget, the citizens of Watertown, Mass., lining their streets to cheer on and high-five and hug the officers as they headed home after a job well done.