WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) spoke on the Senate floor honoring the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers during National Police Week.
“The demonization of law enforcement will have lasting consequences, and it will ultimately make all of us less safe. This is why Congress must do everything we can to support law enforcement and stop efforts to demean and demonize them. The best way to do that is to recognize law enforcement for their remarkable service and the dangers they face to protect us.”
Watch Senator Tillis’ floor speech HERE.
This week is National Police Week, and I rise today in honor of the service and sacrifice of law enforcement across this country. In North Carolina, we lost ten law enforcement officers in 2020, and we've tragically lost six so far in 2021. Some of these officers were victims of covid, others were involved in car accidents, and some made the ultimate sacrifice, killed in the line of duty. Recent tragedies in Cabarrus, Gaston, Henderson, and Watauga Counties have been met with an outpouring of gratitude, appreciation, and love from the residents of those communities. This past September, we lost Deputy Ryan Hendrix of the Henderson County Sheriff's Office after he was shot and killed responding to a break-in. Officer Hendrix was only 35-years-old. He had two young children and was set to be married to his fiancé the following month. Last December, Officer Tyler Herndon of the Mount Holly Police Department was tragically killed in the line of duty just days before his 26th birthday. In December, Officer Jason Shuping of the Concord Police Department was shot and killed while responding to an attempted carjacking. Officer Shuping was only 25-years-old and left behind a wife, Haylee, his high school sweetheart who he had been in love with for years and married for two. Last week, I had the sad honor of joining Cabarrus County to commemorate Law Enforcement Day and honor Officer Shuping's service. Most recently, on April 28, North Carolina tragically lost two more law enforcement officers: Sergeant Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox of the Watauga County Sheriff's Office. They were conducting a welfare check that turned into a deadly hours-long standoff. Sergeant Ward, only 36-years-old, was an 8-year law enforcement veteran. He leaves behind a wife – who was his high school sweetheart – and two daughters. Deputy Fox was only 25-years-old. He was a two-year veteran of the Watauga Sheriff's Office and was partners with K-9 "Raven." He was engaged and soon to be married.
The people of North Carolina came together to pay their final respects to these two brave officers just a little over a week ago. During a procession from Winston-Salem back to Boone, many stood on the side of the road to salute the officers and proudly wave the American flag. I told the audience and the police officers present in Concord last week, that most Americans still greatly appreciate the service of law enforcement. They recognize the vast majority of men and women serving in law enforcement are good people who put on their uniforms every day, willing to lose their own lives to protect others. Being a law enforcement officer is not an easy job. And it's not a safe one. We saw that on Capitol Hill on January 6th. But being an officer is becoming harder and harder, as they handle more stress, more pressure, and more responsibilities than ever before. If their jobs weren't hard enough already, there are some people – including people on Capitol Hill – who are actively demonizing all of law enforcement. Arguing they are unworthy of taxpayer funding or people's respect. It's no wonder why many law enforcement offices across the nation have low morale. We see the real-world consequences: a decrease in applications, early exits, and more retirements. It’s gotten to dangerous levels in several cities across the country.
The demonization of law enforcement will have lasting consequences, and it will ultimately make all of us less safe. This is why Congress must do everything we can to support law enforcement and stop efforts to demean and demonize them. The best way to do that is to recognize law enforcement for their remarkable service and the dangers they face to protect us. That is why I recently reintroduced the Protect and Serve Act. This legislation would make it a federal crime to intentionally assault a law enforcement officer. It ensures prosecutors have every tool available to punish those who attack and target them. In 2018, the Protect and Serve Act passed the House by a vote of 382 to 35, and had the support of every current member of House Democratic leadership. If President Biden is serious about unity, I can think of no better bill for him to support.
This week, I am introducing another important piece of legislation: The Probation Officer Protection Act. This bill would give probation officers the arrest authority they need to fully enforce the law and protect public safety. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will cosponsor this bill and work with me to send it to the President's desk along with the Protect and Serve Act. I know every member of Congress has seen the heroism of law enforcement first-hand, I did too. We all saw it on January 6th, when Capitol Police and DC Police risked lives to ensure our safety. We ultimately lost two officers, and more than 440 of our Capitol Police and DC Police were injured in the events of January 6th. I hope the respect and appreciation we show to law enforcement this week can be sustained year-round. Let us commit ourselves to do all we can to support the men and women in blue who protect and serve us every single day.