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 135 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 135 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.

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