This week is National Police Week – a week that centers around Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15th. This year, it is particularly important that we come together as a nation to remember the men and women who wear the badge. Recently, there have been tragic events in communities like Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD that have caused concern among the law enforcement community as well as the general public. But what is not being touted by the media, or shouted in rallies across the nation, is how many men and women are serving us in law enforcement with integrity and the heart of a servant – men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line each time they put on the badge because they care about their communities.
Having been a cop for 33 years, I know that the job is not just about serving while in your patrol car or at your desk. It is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job. Protecting our communities doesn’t end when the shift is up. Cops are always on guard, always prepared to help. While no person or organization is perfect, the vast majority of those who serve in law enforcement serve to make a positive difference. As the names on the National Law Enforcement Memorial wall show us – every year, men and women sacrifice their very lives to keep you and me safe. They leave behind mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, and children all who want just a little more time with their loved ones, loved ones who are no longer with us because they wanted to stop a threat. Former President George H.W. Bush may have put it best with his words that are inscribed upon the memorial wall itself: “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.”
If we fail to remember this, we do ourselves and our nation a great disservice. As we have seen in Ferguson, in Baltimore, in New York City, and even in Seattle in my home state, reacting to a bad situation with violence is not the answer. Instead of helping those at-risk, it places them at greater risk and tears down communities rather than building them up.
As a congress, and as a country, we must be focusing on policies that strengthen our communities – policies such as the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program which was extended as part of the bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. The MIECHV program is evidence based, with proven results, that helps ensure opportunities for success for at-risk youth and families. These kinds of policies lay solid foundations for successful communities. Successful communities are more likely to have lower crime rates.
Let’s make this Police Week count as we work together on policies that will strengthen our neighborhoods and communities, and protect both the people who live in them as well as those who serve to keep them safe.
— Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)