This year, we recognized May 14-20 as National Police Week. During each National Police Week, we are reminded of what our brave policemen and women face every day.
Whether it’s stopping a carjacker or arresting an armed robber, policemen and women put their lives on the line on a daily basis to protect their communities and keep their fellow Americans safe.
Unfortunately, in the wake of civil unrest in the summer of 2020, the “Defund the Police” movement swept over our country. Some even went so far as the call for police departments to be abolished all together.
Many police departments were faced with funding cuts and hamstrung by new policies designed to limit police activity. What we saw in the aftermath was more crime, including that against our police officers.
According to the FBI, 2021 saw the highest total recorded felonious killings of police officers since 1995 (excluding 9/11). According to the National Fraternal Order of Police, so far in 2023, 135 officers have been shot in the line of duty, up 52% from 2020. Fifteen of those officers have sadly been killed.
What I knew then and now is that this is the wrong course of action. Police officers are essential to keeping our communities safe and we must support our police departments, not turn our backs to them like some of my Democratic colleagues have.
During this year’s National Police Week, House Republicans focused our legislative agenda on honoring our country’s policemen and women and have since passed legislation to benefit these individuals.
On Monday, we passed a resolution to memorialize law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The resolution recognizes law enforcement officers across the United States in the pursuit of preserving safe and secure communities; the need to ensure that such officers have the equipment, training, and resources necessary to protect their health and safety while they are protecting the public; and the law enforcement community in general for acts of sacrifice and heroism.
On Thursday, we passed a second resolution stating that Congress recognizes and appreciates the dedication and devotion demonstrated by the men and women of local law enforcement who keep our communities safe; and condemns calls to defund, disband, dismantle, or abolish the police.
We also passed two pieces of legislation. The first, H.R. 3091, Federal Law Enforcement Officer Service Weapon Purchase Act, directs the General Services Administration to establish a program under which a federal law enforcement officer in good standing may purchase retired service weapons from the federal agency that employs them.
The second, H.R. 2494, POLICE Act of 2023, establishes that if a non-citizen has been convicted of or admits to having committed any offense involving assault of a law enforcement officer, they may be deported to their home country.
Additionally, the House Administration Committee, on which I sit, held a hearing with U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Chief Thomas Manger during police week to discuss the current status of the Capitol police force. House Admin has oversight of the U.S. Capitol Police Board, Capitol Police, and the House Sergeant at Arms.
Our key takeaways from the hearing with Chief Manger were that there should be greater transparency and accountability within the U.S. Capitol Police Board and that we need to invest in more training for our frontline USCP officers.
Unfortunately, we discovered a sweetheart “golden parachute” type deal for a former Acting Chief of the USCP, which appears to be a violation of policy and creates a different standard than the way rank and file USCP officers are treated. Rank and file officers deserve equal treatment, more investigation to follow.
If you are traveling to Washington, D.C. in the near future, I urge you to visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, just steps away from the Capitol. Built in 1991, the memorial honors law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. Carved below one of the four bronze lions featured at the memorial, is a quote by our 41st President, George H.W. Bush.
“Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest to preserve both democracy and decency, and to protect a national treasure that we call the American dream.”
Every day, our policemen and women protect us so we may continue to live out our American dream. Thank you, your service and sacrifice are always appreciated and never forgotten.
– Congressman Morgan Griffith