Honoring Those Who Protect
By: Congressman Lamar Smith
This week, thousands of police officers from around the country will travel to Washington D.C. for National Police Week. The occasion provides Congress with the opportunity to honor those who have given their lives to protect our families, constituents and communities.
According to the Department of Justice, one person is assaulted in the U.S. every 7.2 seconds, raped every 2.7 minutes and murdered every 31 minutes. That means in the last hour, 500 Americans will have been assaulted, 22 raped and two murdered. Congress can and must do more to help law enforcement protect American families and keep our communities safe.
In the district, "The Memorial Wall" stands in the San Antonio Police Academy's courtyard and lists the names of those 48 officers who have sacrificed their lives while fighting to keep San Antonio's neighborhoods safe and crime-free for our children.
We can honor their legacies and the lives of other police officers by bringing meaningful legislation to the floor that will help federal, state and local law enforcement officials combat crime.
For example, the bill Congressman Forbes and I introduced, H.R. 3156, the "Violent Crime Control Act of 2007," would do just that. The bill provides tools needed to reduce violent crime, dismantle dangerous street gangs, apprehend sex offenders who prey on our children, compensate victims of crime and shut down illegal money laundering operations.
Another law enforcement funding bill that has passed the House of Representatives is the COPS bill, H.R. 1700. The COPS program, originally enacted in 1994, provides grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire police officers and purchase new crime-fighting technology. The program ensures grant money is not used to replace state or local funding but to increase funds for community policing.
This funding assists police forces by matching them person for person, dollar for dollar and technology for technology. We owe our police at least that much. Their dedication, service and innovative policing programs led to a 34 percent decrease in violent crime over the past 10 years.
In this Congress, Republicans have introduced over 100 bills to help federal state and local law enforcement officials combat crime. To date, only three have been considered.
America's local law enforcement agencies are on the front lines combating and preventing crime every day. Let's help them shield an innocent person from assault, keep our families safe and help save lives.