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Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 15, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RUTHERFORD. Mr. Speaker, I thank my good friend and neighbor from Georgia for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to stand up for the lives of our Nation's law enforcement officers. I spent over 40 years of my life in law enforcement, including 12 as sheriff. I dedicated my life to protecting minorities in Florida communities and doing my absolute best to ensure that all of my officers went home safely to their families.

Sadly, we still lost good men and women in the line of duty. And there is no doubt that law enforcement is a dangerous profession, and every officer that puts on that badge knows the risk that they take. But one thing is certain, these risks are growing significantly-- increased, thanks to the growing anti-police rhetoric we are seeing across the country, making their jobs more dangerous now than ever before.

Mr. Speaker, I urge defeat of the previous question so that we can consider H.R. 1325, the Protect and Serve Act. The lead cosponsor of my legislation is Congresswoman Val Demings, a career police officer and former Orlando police chief. It is not a controversial bill, and it is one that many, many, of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle support. In fact, last Congress, this bill overwhelming passed the House by a vote of 382-35.

Like Congresswoman Demings, I know what officers go through every day when they put on their uniform, say goodbye to their families, and head out to do the important work of protecting our communities.

Recently, we have seen an undeniable increase in violent attacks against police officers, especially using ambush-style attacks. Just this weekend, we saw two Los Angeles police officers shot in cold blood while simply sitting in their vehicle. But then, when being transported to the hospital for lifesaving treatment, the doors to that hospital were blocked--blocked by protesters chanting, ``We hope they die. We hope they die.''

Mr. Speaker, 2 years ago, in Gilchrist County, Florida, two deputies were assassinated while simply eating lunch. This year, 24 police officers have been ambushed, and 7 of them died because of the attacks.

This is why we must defeat the previous question and consider the Protect and Serve Act. This is bipartisan legislation that will enact the strongest penalties for anyone who decides to target and harm not only Federal officers, but also, in some cases, State and local officers.

Mr. Speaker, many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have expressed shock over the recent police shootings. I now ask that you translate those statements of shock into action and show America that attacks on law enforcement will not be tolerated.

Please stand with Congresswoman Demings and I in supporting the Protect and Serve Act.

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