Prepared Floor Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
“National Police Week”
May 16, 2017
In 1962, Congress passed a joint resolution proclaiming the week of May 15th as “National Police Week,” to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial located in Washington, DC is our country’s monument to these fallen officers. Carved into the marble walls of the Memorial are the names of the more than 20,000 officers killed in the line of duty throughout our nation’s history. Every year, tens of thousands of fellow officers from around the world come to Washington, DC as part of Police Week to pay tribute to the men and women whose names are inscribed on this wall.
The planned events surrounding Police Week began with the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service held on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. The President of the United States was the keynote speaker and his presence was a testament to the fraternity of this noble profession. Immediately following the service, there was a wreath laying at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The annual memorial service is an opportunity for all Americans to reflect on the dedication of these public servants and the ultimate sacrifice they have paid for our country. We should also acknowledge the families of the fallen whose lives have been forever changed by the loss of their loved ones.
During the memorial service, there was a “Roll Call of Heroes” for the 143 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2016. Their names will adorn the Memorial walls in perpetuity. The list of the fallen includes 5 of my fellow Iowans: Sergeant Anthony David Beminio of the Des Moines Police Department; Officer Susan Louise Farrell of the Des Moines Police Department; Justin Scott Martin of the Urbandale Police Department; Sergeant Shawn Glenn Miller of the West Des Moines Police Department; and Officer Carlos Bernabe Puente-Morales of the Des Moines Police Department. We honor these great heroes for laying down their lives to protect their communities in Iowa. There is no year in recent memory in which so many Iowans have lost their lives in the line of duty.
I would like to specifically address the ambush-style killings of Sgt. Beminio and Ofc. Martin. These officers were heinously murdered by the same perpetrator on the same night, while they sat in their patrol cars. While the exact motive of this killer is unknown, he nevertheless sought out these brave men and gunned them down in cold-blood. These ambush-style attacks have become more prevalent since the incidents in Dallas, TX and Baton Rouge, LA, spanning 10 days last July. According to a report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there were a total of 21 officers killed in ambush-style attacks last year, the highest total in two decades. There has been much vitriol directed towards law enforcement over the last few years. The notion that the actions of a few bad individuals implicates the entire profession may unfortunately endanger these public servants. This sort of rush to judgment against all law enforcement officers must end.
The men and women of law enforcement make great sacrifices every day to protect our families and fellow citizens. They do so freely, not out of a sense of obligation, but because they are dedicated to the cause of justice. Their devotion merits our admiration and we are deeply indebted to them.
This is why yesterday I introduced a bipartisan resolution to commemorate Police Week and honor those who have given their lives in this pursuit. I want to thank my fellow colleagues in the Senate who have cosponsored this resolution with me.
I call on all Americans to remember the fallen and pay tribute to the sacrifice they have made. To quote the motto of the Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary: “Never Let Them Walk Alone.”
I hope that during Police Week the Senate will pass my legislation to reform the operations of the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits program. Delays in the award of benefits to the families of fallen officers have become intolerable and those families deserve to know the status of their applications during the process. In addition, the Judiciary Committee has reported two other bills that I hope the Senate will take up during Police Week. One bill sets standards for the use of a new form of DNA evidence. The second makes an allowable use of COPS grants the recruiting and promoting of military veterans as police officers. Finally, during Police Week, the Judiciary Committee will report a bill that is designed to provide mental health services to police officers who live through and with enormous stress as they work to protect us.
I am pleased to join with my colleagues in saluting the service of our law enforcement officers during Police Week.