04.28.08

The Introduction Of A Resolution To Honor The Sacrifices Made By The Men And Women Who Serve As Law Enforcement Officers

Leahy Introduces Resolution Honoring Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers

WASHINGTON (Monday, April 28, 2008) – Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy today introduced a resolution honoring law enforcement officers across the country for their hard work and sacrifice while keeping the public safe.  The resolution designates May 15, 2008, as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and urges Congress to continue supporting the nation’s law enforcement officers and the initiatives that keep law enforcement officers safe.

More than 181 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2007, the most since 2001 and the tragic events of September 11.  The resolution recognizes those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as the over 900,000 men and women that continue to keep our communities safe.

“We are fortunate in Vermont that we rank as the State with the fewest officer deaths in history, with 19 recorded.  But of course that is still 19 deaths too many,” said Leahy.  “The pain and the suffering and the loss associated with every one of those is difficult for anyone to even imagine.   Peace Officers Memorial Day will provide the people of the United States, in their communities, in their State Capitals, and in the Nation's Capital, with the opportunity to honor and reflect on the extraordinary service and sacrifice given year after year by our police forces.”

Leahy has been a leading supporter of law enforcement in the Senate and was a coauthor of legislation that has authorized millions of dollars for law enforcement agencies across the country to buy bulletproof vests for their officers.  Since 1999, when grants for this program were first awarded, Vermont police and sheriffs’ offices have purchased almost 2700 vests.  Leahy is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and earlier this year asked the Committee to fully fund the bulletproof vests grant program.  He is also the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is expected to introduce legislation to reauthorize the bulletproof vest program later this year.

This is the twelfth consecutive year that Leahy has sponsored the Peace Officers Memorial Day resolution.

 

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Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy

On The Introduction Of A Resolution To Honor The Sacrifices Made

By The Men And Women Who Serve As Law Enforcement Officers

Senate Floor

April 28, 2008

 

National Peace Officers Memorial Day Resolution

 

I am proud to submit today a bipartisan resolution to designate May 15, 2008, as National Peace Officers Memorial Day.  Joining me in the submission of this resolution are Senators Specter, Kennedy, Durbin, and Kohl.  We join in recognizing the sacrifices that law enforcement officers make each day for the American people.

 

This is now the twelfth year that I have been involved in offering this resolution to honor the sacrifice and commitment of those law enforcement officers who lost their lives serving their communities.  For many years I submitted this resolution with my old friend and our former colleague Senator Campbell, a former deputy sheriff.  Both Senator Campbell, and I, as a former prosecutor, know well the risks faced by law enforcement officers every day while they serve and protect the American people.

 

We do not thank our Nation's law enforcement officers enough for the sacrifices they make in order to protect all of us.  State and local police officers and all of our first responders deserve our support and respect.  Their role is crucial in upholding the rule of law and keeping our Nation's citizens safe and secure.  They help make our democracy possible. They are our here-at-home, day-in-and-day-out, real-life heroes.   

 

Currently, more than 900,000 men and women who guard our communities do so at great risk.  Since the first recorded police death in 1792, there have been more than 18,200 law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  There is lots of talk about the war on crime.  Our law enforcement officers are all too often the casualties in that effort. 

 

We are fortunate in Vermont that we rank as the State with the fewest officer deaths in history, with 19 recorded.  But of course that is still 19 deaths too many.  The pain and the suffering and the loss associated with every one of those is difficult for anyone to even imagine.  

 

Last year, in 2007, 181 law enforcement officers died while serving in the line of duty.  That is a regrettable and significant increase from 2006.  Tragically, it is the most line-of-duty deaths since 2001 and the losses from September 11 of that year. 

 

With crime having risen during the last few years after a decade of decline, and with law enforcement officers’ deaths increasing, Congress must do more to strongly support State and local law enforcement officers and agencies.  Federal programs can bolster police departments and their support for line officers.  We should help provide greater access to bulletproof vests, state-of-the-art technology, improved training and advanced emergency medical care.  I believe that there is strength in numbers when it comes to fighting violent crime, and Congress owes it to all Americans to support the men and women who are on the front lines keeping America safe. 

 

I am proud of the work I have been involved in to help make it safer on the beat for our officers.  Back in 1998, Senator Campbell and I authored the Bulletproof Vest Grant Partnership Act in response to the tragic Carl Drega shootout on the Vermont-New Hampshire border.  Two state troopers who lacked bulletproof vests were killed.  Since then, we have successfully reauthorized this program three more times: in the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 2000, in the State Justice Institute Reauthorization Act of 2004, and most recently as part of the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005.  It is now authorized at $50 million per year through fiscal year 2009 to help State, tribal and local jurisdictions purchase armor vests for use by law enforcement officers.

 

I hope all Senators will join me to ensure that the program is fully funded for fiscal year 2009, and will also join with me to reauthorize this important program again this year.  Bulletproof vests have saved the lives of thousands of officers and are a fundamental line of defense that no officer should be without.  Hundreds of thousands of police officers are counting on us.

 

National Peace Officers Memorial Day will provide the people of the United States, in their communities, in their State Capitals, and in the Nation's Capital, with the opportunity to honor and reflect on the extraordinary service and sacrifice given year after year by our police forces. During the week of May 15, more than 20,000 peace officers are expected to gather in Washington to join with the families of their fallen comrades.  I hope all Senators will join me in honoring their service by approving this bipartisan resolution.

 

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110TH CONGRESS

2D SESSION

 

S. RES. __

Commemorating and acknowledging the dedication and sacrifice made by the men and women who have lost their lives while serving as law enforcement officers.

 

_______________

 

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

 

Mr. LEAHY submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the

Committee on

_______________

RESOLUTION

 

Commemorating and acknowledging the dedication and sacrifice made by the men and women who have lost their lives while serving as law enforcement officers.

 

Whereas the well-being of all citizens of the United States is preserved and enhanced as a direct result of the vigilance and dedication of law enforcement personnel;

 

Whereas more than 900,000 men and women, at great risk to their personal safety, presently serve their fellow citizens as guardians of the peace;

 

Whereas peace officers are on the front lines in protecting the schools and schoolchildren of the United States;

 

Whereas 181 peace officers across the United States were killed in the line of duty during 2007, tragically the highest yearly total since 2001;

 

Whereas Congress should strongly support initiatives to reduce violent crime and to increase the factors that contribute to the safety of law enforcement officers, including—

 

(1) better equipment and increased use of bullet-resistant vests;

(2) improved training; and

(3) advanced emergency medical care;

 

Whereas, every 2 days on average, 1 out of every 16 peace officers is assaulted, 1 out of every 56 peace officers is injured, and 1 out of every 5,500 peace officers is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States; and

 

Whereas, on May 15, 2008, more than 20,000 peace officers are expected to gather in Washington, District of Columbia, to join with the families of their recently fallen comrades to honor those comrades and all others who went before them: Now, therefore, be it

 

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) recognizes May 15, 2008, as ‘‘Peace Officers Memorial Day’’, in honor of the Federal, State, and local law enforcement officers that have been killed or disabled in the line of duty; and

(2) calls on the people of the United States to observe that day with appropriate ceremonies, appreciation, and respect. 

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