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David R.
Republican WA 8

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  • Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

    by Representative David G. Reichert

    Posted on 2015-01-09

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    REICHERT. I thank the gentleman for yielding and his kind introduction.

    Today, Mr. Speaker, is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. I hope this becomes a yearly thing. It is sponsored today by the National Sheriffs' [[Page H185]] Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the FOP, and other law enforcement organizations--national, State, and local organizations.

    As Mr. Jolly said, I served 33 years in the sheriff's office in Seattle, starting in a patrol car and eventually ending my career as the sheriff. I know from my own personal experience in serving those years that a cop's mission is to protect their community.

    I know this from working with law enforcement not only in the sheriff's office in Seattle, but with the Seattle Police Department, all the police departments and sheriffs' offices in the State of Washington and even across this country. I have had the opportunity to work with a number of law enforcement organizations--local, State, and Federal.

    Mr. Speaker, they come each day with the heart of a servant. They come each day knowing that, when they put on that badge and that uniform, that they may not go home. They know that, but they do it anyway.

    Why do they do that? Why do they take that risk? Why did I take that risk for 33 years? Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, I did come close several times in my career to losing my life to protect the community I served.

    Let me also say that I lost some dear friends over those 33 years. One was my best friend, Sam Hicks, who was shot and killed in June of 1982. Another good friend in 1984 was stabbed to death.

    It is a dangerous job, but it is a job they choose to do because they choose to serve the community. They choose to put their life on the line to protect and serve all of us, protect our families, our children, our businesses, and our property each and every day.

    {time} 1345 But no one is perfect, we know that. There are good police officers and there are bad police officers. There are good mechanics and there are bad mechanics. There are good lawyers and there are bad lawyers. We all come from the human race. There is good and bad in all of us. So no police department is perfect, and no police officer is perfect, and sometimes things go wrong. They are required to make split decisions, life-and-death decisions. In a moment's notice, you can have a gun pointed at you, and you have to make that decision: Do I shoot or not? Can I talk that person out of that gun? I have been in that position, too. Fortunately, I was able to talk that person out of his gun and took him to jail.

    But sometimes things go wrong, and when it does, police, rightly so, must be under the microscope. There must be public scrutiny. Cops know that. Police chiefs know that. Sheriffs know it, and we accept that, too. But when things go wrong and we watch these incidents and these events unfold over the media, let us all remember that police officers have constitutional rights, too. They are allowed due process, too. They are American citizens, too. They have constitutional rights and protections also.

    The Constitution, as was mentioned earlier, was read today, reminding us that we all have those constitutional rights. You are innocent until proven guilty. So when something happens that we think is wrong, let's pay attention to the facts. Let's let the process go forward; and then based on the facts--based on the facts--let's work with the community, with the police department and the mayor and city council and change the policy, change the procedures, and make sure that it doesn't happen again.

    But today, let us also remember the service of the men and women, the brave and dedicated men and women who put that uniform on every day. I am going to name a few police officers from Washington State who, 5 years ago--and this is the 5-year anniversary of the death of these police officers, gunned down, four of them gunned down while sitting in a coffee shop in Lakewood, Washington--paid that ultimate sacrifice, that ultimate price that we often hear talked about: Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officer Ronald Owens, Officer Tina Griswold, Officer Greg Richards, as well as Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton and Pierce County Deputy Kent Mundell, all from Washington State, all not with us today, all of their families missing them.

    During these difficult times, Mr. Speaker, we need to come together as a community, as a country, as a nation, and recognize the service of these police officers across the country. I will end with the simple act that comes so easily for us with people who serve in the military, just a simple ``thank you.'' If you see a police officer today as you go about your duties, your day's duties, please walk up and say ``thank you.'' Please tell them you appreciate their service. That means the world to them.

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