Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Addresses National Peace Officers Memorial Service | Opa

Remarks at the time of delivery

Mr. Yoze, Mr. Lehmann, Mr. Jim Pasco, Executive Director, I am honored to be here today.

Jim: You were made Executive Director of the National Fraternity Police Order in January of 1995, just a few months after I began my third stint with the Department of Justice. You have been a friend to the department and to me ever since. Words cannot express my gratitude.

Pat and Glenda: Thank you also for your partnership, leadership and unwavering dedication to supporting our law enforcement officers.

Joining today from the Department of Justice are Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta, FBI Director Chris Wray, DEA Director Ann Milgram, ATF Director Steve Dettelbach, and Federal Marshals Director Ron Davis.

Last week, the Justice Department held a series of memorial services for law enforcement officers who died at their agency.

We have heard stories of extraordinary heroes. And then we met the families they left behind and we cried together.

To all family, partners, colleagues and friends who are here today in memory of their loved ones:

We know it is impossible to understand the grief you endure or fully understand your loss.

So while we honor law enforcement officers who sacrificed their lives for our country, we also honor the continued sacrifices made by those they loved most. Thank you very much for coming here.

Within minutes, you’ll hear the names of the 443 officers who make up this year’s heroes roll call.

These are people from different backgrounds who have responded to the call to serve, bringing different perspectives and different experiences to the work.

They served in big cities and small towns. Some have served for decades and mentored generations of colleagues. Some were just starting their careers.

But they each made the same promise to serve and protect their communities.

They promised to answer calls for help.

They promised to respond to any crisis in their community.

They promised that no danger or threat would prevent them from appearing when they were most needed.

All those we admire today have kept that promise. I would like to share just a few of their stories.

Corporal Ray Hamilton won not one but two life saving awards during his five and a half years with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.

As a law enforcement officer, he excelled as a crime scene investigator, field trainer, and eventually as a member of the Special Response Team for the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

Last Christmas Eve, a special response team was called in after a suspected domestic abuser refused to leave his residence. Corporal Hamilton and his team answered the call.

The suspect shot Corporal Hamilton through a window. His wife Lenny is also here today. Renee, thank you for allowing me to honor your husband.

Detective Misha Stewart, from Greenville, Mississippi, has only been with the Greenville Police Department for two years.

But in the meantime, she graduated from Mississippi Delta Community College Police Academy, became an investigator, and was named 2021 Rookie of the Year.

Her dedication to the Greenville community is evident in all of her work, including when she answered a firing call last October.

Detective Stewart didn’t get home that night. She was shot dead in the line of duty and robbed of her loved ones, including her three-year-old son. We will join you in remembrance of Detective Stewart.

Constable Howard Liebengood has worked for the United States Capitol Police for over 15 years. During that time, he was known to his colleagues and those he protected as a kind, thoughtful, and selfless person.

When the Capitol and the law enforcement officers guarding it were attacked on January 6, 2021, Police Officer Liebengood responded to the call. He helped protect and secure the Capitol and our democracy that day.

Tragically, within days of the attack, Officer Liebengood died by suicide. His wife Serena and his brothers John and Ann are with us today. Thank you for commending Officer Liebengood with everyone.

Along with the FOP’s task force, Liebengood’s family and many others advocated for passage of the 2022 Public Security Personnel Assistance Act.

The Act expands the coverage of the Public Security Officers Benefits Program (PSOB) administered by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Assistance.

Thanks to their support, PSOB coverage now extends to police officers who are permanently and completely disabled by certain mental health disorders, and to suicides as a result of being exposed to traumatic events encountered on the job. It extends to dead police officers.

This change is essential. I couldn’t wait.

Every day, law enforcement officers are called upon to respond to the toughest and most traumatic moments facing our community.

You are expected to be on the front lines of fighting violent crime. At the same time, they are called upon to act as first responders to some of the most serious social problems.

You will face devastating and dangerous situations.

You witness a terrible tragedy.

You endure unusual violence and threats of violence directed against you.

All of this adds to the already enormous strain on the people you work with as your departments, offices and agencies continue to face recruitment and retention crises.

And doing all this during a global pandemic put a strain on departments across the country, making jobs even more risky.

Police officers experience levels of stress and trauma every day that most of us cannot comprehend, simply by doing their job.

We know that stress can negatively impact a police officer’s mental health, physical health, morale, and more.

And every day, when the police come home, it is the families who support and encourage them, even as they worry about the safety of their loved ones.

Law enforcement officers and their families deserve tremendous respect and gratitude for their selfish service to their communities.

But they are worth more than that. They are entitled to the resources they need to maintain their safety and support.

The U.S. Department of Justice is committed to doing everything in its power to provide that assistance. We invest in programs that support [officer] Safety, health and wellness. Incentives to improve recruitment and retention. It is also an effort to help local law enforcement build trust between the police and the communities they serve.

We know that when police officers are safe and supported, so are our communities.

Today we honor 443 extraordinary officers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their communities.

It is no coincidence that we do this here in front of the Capitol, surrounded by the institutions that make up our democracy.

What makes the United States different from many other countries is that the protection of law, or the rule of law, is the foundation of our system of government.

And vital to the rule of law are those who dedicate their lives to enforcing it. Doing so ensures that the rest of the population enjoys the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

May we soon remember the courage with which they lived and worked when we hear the names of those heroes.

May they be able to refocus on supporting their colleagues and their loved ones.

And may we honor their sacrifice through our continued efforts to keep our communities safe.

thank you.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *