COLUMN: Supporting Our Law Enforcement

August 1, 2016
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

Dallas. Baton Rouge. In those two cities, eight police officers lost their lives after being targeted and ambushed in two separate attacks. Our nation has been stunned as law enforcement has also been targeted in shootings in Philadelphia, in St. Joseph, Michigan, in Tennessee, in Missouri, and in Georgia. Two officers were shot in San Diego just last week. We honor those in blue who lost their lives or were wounded while serving their communities. Wearing the badge is a risk they take every day to keep our families and loved ones safe. They work to protect us, and attacks against them are attacks against all of us. As a nation, we owe a restoration of respect for our brave men and women who keep the peace in our neighborhoods.

Our nation has seen an alarming spike in the targeting of law enforcement officers in the past year, and especially the past few months. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the number of police officers shot and killed this year is up 78 percent compared to the same time last year. Nothing justifies the targeting and murder of law enforcement. The officers shot in Dallas were protecting protesters demonstrating their First Amendment rights. As the shooting in Dallas started, officers ran toward the sounds of gunfire and directed protesters to safety. These shootings were acts of hatred, pure and simple, and the response of officers demonstrated their solemn sense of duty to protect and to serve everyone in their community.

In light of the series of targeted incidents against law enforcement, I have joined as a cosponsor of H.R.4760, the Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016, which would classify any targeted attack on law enforcement as a federal hate crime. This legislation would rightly increase penalties against perpetrators in order to protect the police and first responders in our communities. Our laws must protect those whose job is to protect us.

All Americans should have confidence that they are treated as equals under the law. Every officer-related fatality—such as the 2015 shooting in Pasco—must be thoroughly investigated. At the same time, we as a nation must foster and encourage respect for the rule of law and for those who enforce it to keep communities safe. A mother of two in Dallas, a demonstrator who saw the police acting to keep everyone safe as the shooting there started, said of police officers, “These people who came out to protect us, we’re going to be out there for them.”

We support public servants in law enforcement. We pray for their safety, and we pray for restoration of peace in our communities.