Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

NATIONAL POLICE WEEK

May 13 2008

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I appreciate[Congressman Reicherts]service in the House but also in your other career as a sheriff. I'm sure, based upon the information we know about you, Sheriff, when you left the State of Washington and came to the House of Representatives, the criminals were probably cheering that you had left town and you were coming to Washington, DC. But I want to thank you and the other several individuals in the House of Representatives who served in law enforcement prior to coming to the House of Representatives.

This week is Police Week, May 11 through the 17th. I am proud to be the author of House Resolution 1132 to designate May 15 of this year as Peace Officers Memorial Day so that we can honor all Federal, State, and local peace officers killed in the line of duty or disabled in the line of duty.

As you have mentioned, Sheriff, thousands of local, State, and Federal law enforcement officers across the country are injured every year. Almost 60,000 a year are injured in the line of duty. Many others are also killed in the line of duty.

Peace officers selflessly protect our communities and our property regardless of the dangers they face. Every day when they get up, they pin that badge or star on, and they go on patrol throughout this country, they always put their life on the line for the rest of us. There are almost 1 million sworn peace officers in the United States today.

When I came to Congress, I was the author and founder of the Victims' Rights Caucus. This bipartisan group advocates not only on behalf of crime victims but peace officers as well, to give bipartisan support for the work that peace officers do because many of them also become victims of crime.

You mentioned that you spent 33 years in law enforcement. I saw it probably from the other position. You used to catch them and I used to prosecute them, so to speak. I spent 8 years prosecuting criminals in Houston, Texas, and left the District Attorney's office and became a judge in Houston for 22 more years, hearing only criminal cases, hearing some 25,000 cases during that period of time. And I saw firsthand how police officers became victims of crime. During my years as a prosecutor, I knew several peace officers that were injured or killed in the line of duty. And since the first recorded police death in 1792, there have been almost 20,000 officers killed in the line of duty in the United States. Of course, the deadliest day in law enforcement history was September 11, 2001, when 72 officers were killed responding to international criminal attacks against the United States. Last year 181 officers were killed. That's 30 more than in 2006.

Law enforcement officers are also frequently the victims of assault. They continue to be assaulted day in and day out. And it's not part of their duty and job to be victims of assault. But as you mentioned, many times they take it because that's what they do.

Here in Washington, DC., we have the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. This memorial lists the names of brave men and women who have died in the line of duty, and every year more names are added to that memorial, and every year more families suffer the rest of their lives for being a victim of crime and the loss of their loved one.

This year, in 2008, Texas has the highest number of law enforcement officers that have been killed, with Georgia being second. Ranking in the States, California has lost the most, Texas the second most, and New York the third most since we have been recording the number of officers killed. This week allows us an opportunity to pay tribute to these brave men and women who are no l