National Police Week: Blue Lives Matter

Floor Speech

Date: May 12, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. NUGENT. I thank Sheriff Reichert so very much for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, we are here at a very solemn time in the law enforcement community. National Police Week is the week that we honor those who have fallen the year before and in all of the prior years.

When Sheriff Reichert was talking about the statistics of assaults on law enforcement officers and about the number of law enforcement officers who are killed annually, behind each of those stories is a real person--a son or a daughter who is not coming home anymore, or a wife or a husband.

I have been a police officer. I was a police officer for 38 years, and I was ultimately a sheriff in Hernando County, Florida. I have buried my share of fellow law enforcement officers in those 38 years-- too many to even talk about without bringing a tear. I can tell you, as a rookie police officer who was right out of the academy, in the first year I was on the street, one of the guys with whom I went through the academy was shot and killed. That was the first year out of the academy. I was held hostage at one point in time in my career by a guy who was intent on killing his wife.

We all have stories like that. Sheriff Reichert is one of those true heroes in law enforcement. He is too modest to talk about the times that he has been assaulted, stabbed, or of the folks he has put in jail--the Green River Murderer. That is just the type of people we are. We are very humble. I was blessed to be in law enforcement for 38 years, and 12 of those years were outside the city of Chicago. I will tell you this: the brotherhood in law enforcement is the same wherever you go across this great Nation.

We are made up of people, though, and we have flaws like anybody else. Whether you are a physician or a teacher or even a priest, sometimes they do wrong things, but 99.99 percent of those in law enforcement do it for all of the right reasons. It is not because they are going to make great pay, and it is not because: Oh, my gosh, I get to work the weekends or work holidays or work midnights or miss birthday parties. They do it because of the love that they have for the people whom they serve in whatever community it may be--as large as New York City and as small as Apopka, Florida. It doesn't matter. The feelings that go into being a law enforcement officer are those of service to his fellow man.

I have been blessed. My wife and I have been married for 41 years, with three sons--all of them in the military--but the one middle son, who is a Blackhawk pilot for the Florida Army National Guard, is also a deputy sheriff in Hillsborough County, Florida. I know the feeling that his wife has every time he dons that uniform and goes to work: Is he going to come home tonight?

That is the feeling that all of our wives and mothers and grandmothers felt for their children as they went out the door wearing that uniform of whatever city, county, township they supported or State police agency.

We have been blessed in America, and it is because of those people-- that thin blue line--who are willing to stand in front of danger to protect the normal, average citizen, somebody they have never met and may never meet again. They run into burning buildings, just like on 9/ 11, to save people. They face down felons to save their fellow man. All they ask for is a little respect, and I don't think that is too much to ask.

This week we passed a piece of legislation, the Fallen Heroes Flag Act, that allows us as Members of Congress and in the Senate to provide a flag. It is a small token of our everlasting appreciation for the sacrifices their families have made in the deaths of loved ones who served their country while wearing a law enforcement officer's uniform. We passed that here, and the President is going to sign it. It gives us the ability to provide that flag at no cost to the families. Go figure. At the end of the day, it is really about recognizing in a very small and symbolic way that it does matter. Blue lives matter, and all lives should matter.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished sheriff, the gentleman from Washington State, Dave Reichert.