15 Reasons for May 15

15 Reasons for May 15

Every year on May 15th, the United States observes Peace Officers Memorial Day during National Police Week to recognize and pay tribute to the law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty. Tragically, this year 143 names will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall in remembrance of the men and women who were killed in the line of duty last year.

As a 33 year law enforcement veteran, I have experienced the deep feelings of pain and sorrow of losing friends and colleagues on the job. Their deaths remind me every day that officers are willing to respond to a call for help regardless of an individual’s political views, race, religion, or criminal history. Like my friends and those who lost their lives before and after them, officers are willing to sacrifice everything for those they serve.

Our law enforcement officers and their families deserve our support. Together, we must do more to improve the breakdown in trust between police and the communities they serve. We must change the national rhetoric and remember to recognize and appreciate their everyday acts of bravery and kindness in service to all of us. 

Each week, leading up to May 15th I will share with you a reason our law enforcement community deserves our support. I hope you will join in me in participating in #15ReasonsforMay15 by posting stories about the important work our law enforcement officers do in our communities, thanking your local officers, and any additional creative ideas you can think of to show your appreciation. I will proudly display stories shared with my office on my website . Together, these small acts of thanks will add up to a big show of support for law enforcement across the nation as we honor their service and remember the sacrifices of the 143 officers who gave their lives last year.

Reason Number Two: Perseverance

Last December, Mount Vernon officer, Mike “Mick” McClaughry, was shot in the head while responding to a local shooting. Officer McClaughry is a father, a husband, and a three decade law enforcement veteran. For over two months he underwent treatment at Harborview Medical Center – at times hanging on to his life in critical condition. With the help of outstanding medical professionals, a loving family, an outpouring of support from his community, and an incredible determination to survive, Officer McClaughry was released from the hospital.

His injuries have left him blind and unable to continue working at the Mount Vernon PD, but he has taught us all a lesson about not only what it means to serve and sacrifice, but how to persevere against tremendous odds.

Reason Number Three: Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

When most of us think of a law enforcement officer we think just that – they are an enforcer of the law. But they are much more than that. They are mentors. They are a support system. They are ready and willing to serve the community in any capacity they can.
Lt. B.J. Gruber of the Marion, Ohio Police Department is one example of an officer who went above the call of duty to respond to a request for help. When a ten year old Lena Draper used Facebook message to reach out to Marion PD for help on her math assignment, Lt. Gruber did not hesitate to respond. Together, they worked through several sets of problems. Although Lt. Gruber was a little rusty on his arithmetic, Draper and her mother appreciated the officer’s willingness to go beyond his official duties to help with the assignment.

The Marion PD later posted on their Facebook page that it makes any type of emergency a cause to be answered. Nice work!

Reason Number Four: Doing More With Less

This week, my fellow co-chair on the House Law Enforcement Caucus, Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), and I sent a letter to President Trump outlining the importance of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), especially its hiring program. I know firsthand how important community policing is to reducing crime, keeping officers safe, and building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Today members of law enforcement around the country are being asked to take on more while facing widespread staffing shortages. Our local law enforcement are our first line of defense, the first to respond to acts of domestic terrorism. We must support the men and women who risk their lives daily to keep our communities and our families safe. There is no greater way to do this than through strong support of the COPS Office and community policing.

I also testified before the House Appropriations Committee, calling on committee members to strengthen funding for the COPS Hiring Program. To watch my testimony, click HERE.

Reason Number Five: Strength in Community

It was just another Sunday for Vickie Williams-Tillman. A mother, a grandmother, and a wife, Mrs. William-Tillman was on her way to buy supplies for a nice Sunday meal when she saw a confrontation on the side of the road. It appeared that a Baton Rouge, Louisiana police officer was being attacked by a suspect. Without hesitation, Mrs. Williams-Tillman called 911 and then, fearing for the officer’s safety when the suspect began hitting him with a baton, took matters into her own hands. She jumped out of her vehicle and onto the suspect’s back, preventing the suspect from grabbing a gun from the officer’s holster.

Mrs. Williams-Tillman, 56 years old and only 5’2, demonstrated a tremendous feat of bravery and courage that day, but she also showed communities are stronger and safer when we take care of one another and work together as a team. We typically depend on police officers to protect our communities, but Mrs. William-Tillman reminded us that they are also members of the community. Click HERE to read the full story.

Reason Number Six: Going Blue Means Thank You

My co-chair of the Law Enforcement Caucus, Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and I sent a letter to President Donald Trump, requesting that the President illuminate the White House blue on the night of May 15, 2017 in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day. Blue lights are traditionally used as a symbol of recognition and appreciation of law enforcement.

This is an important show of support for the more than 21,000 officers who have given their lives while serving their communities. I hope the President will take this opportunity to recognize the difficulties and dangers that officers encounter every day in public service to us all. The men and women who wear the badge understand the dangers of their job, but they heed the call to serve and willingly face those risks every day in order to create safe communities for all Americans. Peace Officers Memorial Day is the perfect time to honor these great sacrifices made by those who wear the uniform.

Requesting the President to light the White House blue on Peace Officers Memorial Day, is part of my #15ReasonsforMay15 campaign, which aims to build awareness leading up to May 15th by highlighting the positive contributions and sacrifices law enforcement makes on behalf of our communities.

Reason Number Seven: Compassion and Generosity

What a story. Jourdan Duncan, a teenager from Vallejo, California, had been making a seven mile trip on foot from work back to his parents’ home. He was working long and late hours to save up for college. Cpl. Kirk Keffer of the Benicia Police Department saw him one night on his way home and wondered why someone would be walking down the street alone at 11 p.m. When he heard Duncan’s story he gave him a ride home, but when he returned to the police department, he could not get Duncan’s long commute out of his head. Read the story below to find out how the police department and community joined together to change this impressive young man’s life.

Reason Number Eight: Building Coalitions

Difficult problems are not solved in a vacuum. Making our communities safer begins with confronting the issues that created conflict in the first place. This week, my fellow co-chair of the Law Enforcement Caucus, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), and I had a long and meaningful conversation with individuals who are working to move the needle on rebuilding police-community relations by working with Members of Congress on shared goals. Current and former NFL players, Anquan Boldin, Donte Stallworth, Johnson Bademosi, and Malcolm Jenkins shared their stories and concerns about inadequate funding for community policing and training programs. These are issues law enforcement and the communities they serve can support together. I am committed to fighting to protect and grow these critical programs and look forward to continuing to work with members of the NFL who are willing to use their influence to build trust within our communities

 

Reason Number Nine: Safe Communities

Students, business owners, mothers and fathers, young people and the elderly - all individuals, regardless of background or occupation, want to feel safe in their communities. Law enforcement is here to fulfill this need and they do so day in and day out. But funding cuts have put tremendous strains on law enforcement agencies nation-wide as they face hiring shortages and a lack of resources and support for critical training and community outreach programs. We must reverse this trend and fully support our law enforcement so they can protect and serve their communities to the best of their ability. This week, I led a bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Committee, urging them to strengthen funding for the Byrne Jag and COPS programs, which give agencies the hiring capacity, tools, and resources to perform their critical mission of protecting our loved ones. I'm proud this letter earned the bipartisan support of 183 of my colleagues.

Reason Number Ten: Protecting Our Natural Treasures

In celebration of Earth Day tomorrow, I wanted to highlight the work our law enforcement does not just to protect the public, but to protect our public lands. When you visit one of the many beautiful national parks across the country and our region, including Mount Rainier National Park, there are individuals working to keep you safe and protect our natural treasures from forest fires, looting and vandalism of archeological sites, and other disruptions. But our law enforcement officers cannot perform this important job without adequate resources and support. Recently, I sent a bipartisan letter with Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, urging my colleagues to provide robust funding in Fiscal Year 2018 for law enforcement officers working on our public lands. I remain committed to preserving and protecting our public lands for future generations and supporting the individuals who protect them.

Reason Number Eleven: Overcoming Adversity

The traumas faced by members of law enforcement do not leave them when they go home at the end of the day. During my time in the King County Sheriff’s Office I lost dear friends and witnessed tragedies that are forever seared into my memory. Just like our military members who protect us abroad, our law enforcement officers who protect us here at home need and deserve access to critical mental health and wellness services. This week, I was proud to support a bipartisan bill, the Law Enforcement Mental Health & Wellness Act, which raises awareness about this important issue and will move us forward to finally giving those who sacrifice so much on our behalf the services they deserve.

Reason Number 12: Protecting by Caring

Justin Martin of the Hamden, Connecticut Police Department did not waste a moment when he saw a man at a retirement home climbing over the roof railing attempting to commit suicide. After residents informed him of the situation, Officer Martin raced up six flight of stairs, grabbed the man by his feet, and rescued him from hurting himself.

Our members of law enforcement do more than protect us by patrolling the streets or intervening in violent skirmishes, they protect us by showing they care.

Read the full story, HERE.

Reason Number Thirteen: Seeing the Bigger Picture

When Atlanta police officer Che Milton got a call to investigate theft at a local store, he was not expecting what he found. The suspect was a 12 year-old girl and her crime was stealing a $2 pair of shoes. She explained to Officer Milton that the shoes were for her sister and she did not have the money to afford them. Knowing there was probably more to the story and wanting to see how he could help, Officer Milton had the young girl take him back to her family, where he saw they were struggling to get by.
It was only his first week on the job, but Officer Milton bought the family a pizza dinner and organized an effort within the police department to help raise money for the family.

In an interview with CNN, the department said, "The way that Officer Milton handled this incident showed that not only is he here to enforce the law but also to go the extra mile and be a bigger part of the community he is policing."

Read the full story, HERE.

Reason Number Fourteen: Family Sacrifice

Today, as part of Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week, hundreds of families, friends, colleagues, and loved ones from every corner of the country will gather at the U.S. Capitol for the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day to honor the 394 officers who gave their lives in service to their communities. Their names will forever be etched in our hearts and on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial along with the over 21,000 that came before them.

Last year, I had the privilege of meeting with some of the families from our region who traveled to Washington, DC to honor their loved one who fell in the line of duty. It was a reminder that both members of law enforcement and their families make tremendous sacrifices on our behalf. This week, and every week, let’s remind them of our appreciation.

Reason Number Fifteen: Solidarity

Last Sunday, hundreds of families from all corners of the country gathered on the National Mall lawn for a candlelight vigil and listened as the names of the 394 officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial were read. Family members of fallen officers have gone through their own personal experience of mourning, but coming together in one place at one time reminds loved ones they are not alone – they have a warm and supportive community behind them. Beginning with the candlelight vigil and the Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service, Police Week gives families the opportunity to both honor loved ones and connect with law enforcement families across the country who have also experienced a loss few others can understand. As a former cop, I have seen and experienced this special relationship and am deeply appreciative of the unbreakable bond that overcomes differences in race, religion, economic status, and political background.

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