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Law enforcement officers put on their uniform knowing the risks that come with the public duty to serve and protect. It takes a special person to take on that responsibility. As we commemorate National Police Week, we honor law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to safeguard our communities.
Since 1962, we have recognized May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as National Police Week. This is a special time that brings together law enforcement personnel from Arkansas and across the country to our nation’s capital for ceremonies honoring the service and sacrifice of officers, including those who gave their lives in the line of duty.
This year, the names of 556 officers who perished while serving their community have been added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial including 13 Arkansans. This tribute to the selfless public servants who courageously face danger head-on allows us to forever remember these heroes.
In the coming days I’ll be meeting with Arkansans visiting Washington, D.C. to recognize the sacrifice of their loved ones and colleagues whose names are new to the memorial to show my appreciation for their service.
Our men and women in blue need to know we have their back. We must continue to honor their commitment to law and order by improving training and resourcing and strengthening coordination between law enforcement agencies at all levels.
Programs like the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant and the Community Oriented Policing Services have been instrumental in helping Arkansas law enforcement agencies hire additional officers, purchase new gear and technology and facilitate multi-jurisdictional efforts such as drug task forces. I will continue to support these public safety initiatives so police officers have the equipment and training to do their jobs safely and effectively.
As many communities across the country are experiencing a rise in violent crimes including attacks on police, Congress is working to hold bad actors accountable through a number of legislative efforts including the Combating Violent and Dangerous Crime Act. This legislation would strengthen violent crime laws related to attacks on law enforcement, bank robbery, carjackings and other violent offenses.
I’m also championing legislation to increase penalties for criminals who target law enforcement officers, prosecutors and first responders. The Thin Blue Line Act would make the targeting, killing or attempted killing of law enforcement an aggravating factor in favor of maximizing sentences.
Earlier this month, I helped introduce the Back the Blue Act, legislation that would strengthen laws to protect federal law enforcement officers from those who deliberately target them and provide new tools for officers to protect themselves.
On behalf of all Arkansas, I thank law enforcement officers in The Natural State and across the country who dedicate their lives to protecting our communities and bringing criminals to justice. I’m proud to recognize these men and women during National Police Week and every week of the year for their continued courage and sacrifice.