Vice President Biden touted the heroism of authorities who first responded to the Colorado shootings in an emotional speech in Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday to the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO).

“I had intended initially to come down and talk policy with you,” Biden said. “But it doesn’t seem appropriate to talk about that in the wake of what happened early Friday morning in Aurora.”

The late-night shooting at a crowded premier for the new Batman movie left 12 dead and dozens wounded.

“I doubt whether you’re surprised that the Aurora police were on the scene in 90 seconds,” Biden said, before recounting the stories that have begun to emerge from the chaotic scene in which movie-goers and officers protected one another, returned towards gunfire to assist the wounded, or made critical on-the-spot decisions that may have saved lives.

“The police came running in telling people to run out,” Biden said. “How many times have you run in to get people out, not having any idea with any degree of certainty what you were going to run into, but knowing you had to? What is it that enables you to do that? What is it about you that instinctively has you run in when every fiber in your being would say 'run out.' It’s because of you, it’s because of them, that Americans remain hopeful in the midst of this tragedy.”

“God only knows what makes you tick, but thank God you tick the way you do,” he continued. “In this moment of our grief, an entire nation is reminded of how grateful we are for you.”

One of Biden’s strengths is his ability to connect with blue-collar constituents, and this was on full display Monday in a speech that was gritty at times and didn’t shy away from the tough imagery associated with the massacre.

“You’ve cradled too many innocents who’ve been gunned down, praying that the damn ambulance would get there,” Biden said. “You’re not surprised by the stories of officers not waiting for the ambulance, recognizing a critical wound and literally picking up a theater-goer and putting him or her in the squad car…you know the seconds count.”

President Obama and Mitt Romney took an unofficial break from campaigning over the weekend and pulled their ads in Colorado as the nation struggled to deal with one of the worst mass killings in its history.

Obama traveled to Aurora on Sunday to meet with victims, a move that Romney lauded as “the right thing to do.”