Honoring the Men and Women in Blue
Every day, federal, state, and local law enforcement officers around the country protect their fellow citizens from harm, keep the peace, and carry out justice. As they serve and protect us, we have a duty to ensure they have the tools needed to do their jobs and that our laws honor their sacrifices. Communities across the nation will observe National Police Week May 14-20 in honor of those lost in the line of duty. At the same time, the House of Representatives is slated to consider several bills from the Judiciary Committee that recognize the sacrifices of these brave men and women and will aid law enforcement in their work.
One of these bills is the Rapid DNA Act, which will help identify the guilty and free the innocent by allowing Rapid DNA analysis machines to be used at local police stations. Rapid DNA technology expedites DNA analysis and allows local law enforcement to accurately identify a suspect within hours, as opposed to weeks when evidence is shipped off to a lab. This bipartisan bill will help keep offenders off the streets, preventing them from possibly committing additional crimes.
The Hometown Heroes Act amends the flag code to permit the American flag to be flown at half-staff in the event that a public safety officer dies in the line of duty. These public safety officers include local police officers, firefighters, and EMS professionals – a group of individuals who make great sacrifices so we all can live in a free country. In the event of a natural disaster, an accident, or even a terrorist attack, they are the first to answer the call and this bill allows the public to show their appreciation for fallen officers.
Another bill that I hope the House will pass is the Thin Blue Line Act. This bill adds the murder of a state or local police officer as an aggravating factor for a jury to consider in deciding whether to impose the death penalty in a capital case in federal court. Moreover, it sends a simple message that the stalking and killing of law enforcement officers will not be tolerated.
Last year, I established the bipartisan Policing Strategies Working Group in the House to examine police accountability, aggression towards law enforcement, and public safety concerns. Our dialogue continues as we learn more about policing issues across the country and work toward common ground.
Any day that a law enforcement officer puts on their badge is a day that they are risking their life. More than 40 police officers have died in the line of duty already this year, and we cannot forget their sacrifice. I am grateful for the law enforcement community who protect us, and I hope you will take the time to show your gratitude for the men and women in blue.