Police Weekby Senator Mitch McConnell
Posted on 2014-05-14
McCONNELL. Mr. President, this week we recognize National Police
Week. National Police Week is a time to pay tribute to the service and
sacrifice of the men and women in Federal, State, and local law
enforcement across our Nation. Law enforcement is one of our Nation's
highest callings, as brave peace officers put themselves on the line to
defend the lives, safety and property of their neighbors. Therefore, it
is entirely appropriate that we pause this week and throughout the year
to thank them for their service.
The Nation's capital is host to thousands of police officers who have come to celebrate National Police Week with their fellow officers. No one but another peacekeeper or their families can truly grasp the duty of defending their communities. No one but another peacekeeper can truly know the joys of camaraderie and the sorrows of deep loss that each one has experienced.
I want to especially recognize the many men and women of Kentucky law enforcement. Many of them have traveled to Washington this week, and I will have the pleasure of meeting with some of Kentucky's finest and their families later today, including the Ellis family and the Shaw family.
I am personally grateful to them for bravely risking their lives in our defense. Sadly, this occasion of National [[Page S2983]] Police Week is also the time when we pay tribute to two brave and honorable police officers from the Commonwealth of Kentucky who have fallen in the line of duty in the past year.
Deputy Sheriff Chad D. Shaw of the McCracken County Sheriff's Department tragically suffered a fatal heart attack on August 6, 2013. He was 47 years old. Deputy Shaw had been at the Community Christian Academy in Western Kentucky, near Paducah, helping coordinate security for a meeting among the faculty and staff to kick off the new school year when he collapsed and was immediately taken to Baptist Health in Paducah.
Tragically, it was too late for the U.S. Army veteran and 12-year veteran of the McCracken County Sheriff's Department. McCracken County Sheriff Joe Hayden says: ``Deputy Shaw will always be remembered for his love of his family, his love for helping others, and the thoroughness in the way he did his job as a public servant for the citizens that he served.'' Deputy Shaw leaves behind his wife Margaret and two daughters. I express my deepest condolences to them, as well as to members of the McCracken County Sheriff's Department and to all who knew Deputy Shaw at the loss of this fine and good man who chose to wear the uniform of both his country and his Commonwealth and brought honor to both.
I also pay tribute to another Kentucky officer lost to us in the last year, officer Jason Scott Ellis of the Bardstown Police Department. Officer Ellis was tragically killed on May 25 of last year. He was 33 years old. Officer Ellis was killed when he was en route home following his shift. He was in uniform and driving a marked vehicle. It is believed he was ambushed by a subject who deliberately placed debris in the middle of the roadway, causing Officer Ellis to stop and exit his vehicle.
As Officer Ellis removed the debris, the killer or killers opened fire from a nearby hilltop, shooting him multiple times and killing him instantly. It is no exaggeration to call what happened to Officer Ellis an assassination. Maddeningly, the killer or killers are still at large.
Officer Ellis's tragic death marked the first time in the history of the Bardstown Police Department for an officer to be killed in the line of duty. A reward for the assassin, or assassins, still at large has grown to over a quarter of a million dollars.
Commissioner Rodney Brewer of the Kentucky State Police pledges that his troopers will continue to aggressively investigate this heinous murder until an arrest is made. Kentucky State Police, Bardstown police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continue to seek the public's assistance with any detail, regardless of how small, regarding the evening of Officer Ellis's death, May 25, 2013.
Ellis was a huge asset to his force. He was not only a field-training officer, but he was also their only K-9 officer. With his police dog Figo, he fought illegal drug use in Bardstown. Few can forget one of the iconic photos of 2013 that featured Figo resting his paw on the coffin of his departed partner Officer Ellis at the funeral service.
Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin credited Officer Ellis with being one of the department's top officers when it came to arrests and making a dent in the drug problem.
``He also made me feel like he was Superman,'' says Amy Ellis, Officer Ellis's wife, ``that nothing would ever happen to him.'' Chief Rick McCubbin says Officer Ellis paid the ultimate sacrifice doing what he loved, being a police officer.
Jason Ellis was a native of Cincinnati and a student at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, KY. At school he was a star baseball player. He set records for alltime career hits, doubles, home runs, and career games played. He went on to play minor league baseball in the Cincinnati Reds system from 2002 to 2005.
Even as the star of the baseball diamond, however, coaches and teammates remember Jason Ellis talking about becoming a law enforcement officer. His wife Amy says: He was always a go-getter . . . He was dedicated to his job and he wanted to clean the streets up. And that was the way to get the drugs off the streets.
Officer Ellis was a 7-year veteran of the Bardstown Police Department. He leaves behind a grieving family, including his wife Amy, his two young sons Parker and Hunter, two sisters, his mother and stepfather, and many other beloved family members and friends.
More than 300 people attended a candlelight vigil for Officer Ellis outside the police station shortly after his murder. On May 30 of last year, Officer Ellis was laid to rest at Highview Cemetery in Nelson County. Fellow law enforcement officers from across Kentucky and as far away as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois came to pay their respects. Hundreds of police cruisers helped to make up the funeral procession over those beautiful rolling hills and country roads of Nelson County.
Over 1,000 people filled the church sanctuary to capacity, with even more standing in the aisles, to show their reverence and respect for Officer Ellis's service and his sacrifice. Chief Rick McCubbin says this about his tragic slaying: It's basically a large family here and a lot of these officers have worked together many years, so as you can imagine they are very close. They know each other well, they know each other's families, each other's children, so it's a devastating hit.
Officer Ellis's loss is a devastating hit not only to his family, not only to his brother officers, but to all of us throughout Kentucky who respect and admire the men and women who wear a police uniform and make a solemn vow to defend the lives of others, even at the cost of their own.
I want to express my deepest condolences to Officer Ellis's family, to the members of the Bardstown Police Department, and to peace officers across Kentucky for the loss of one very brave officer: Jason Scott Ellis.
I am relieved to say that for the grieving family members of Officer Ellis, Deputy Shaw, and every peace officer lost in the line of duty across our Nation, resources to help are available. One of those resources is COPS, or Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc. COPS members include spouses, children, parents, siblings, significant others, and affected coworkers of officers killed in the line of duty.
The Kentucky chapter of COPS has been at the forefront of serving this mission. Last year Kentucky COPS hosted the Traumas in Law Enforcement seminar for law enforcement agencies to learn how to deal with line-of-duty deaths. With 62 participants, it was one of the highest attended seminars that any COPS chapter or organization has ever put on. This is an organization that does not forget, taking care of the families of our fallen law enforcement heroes long after their watches end.
I am proud of our Bluegrass State peace officers for taking the lead in helping other men and women in blue to deal with these tragic losses. As I have just related in the stories of Officer Ellis and Deputy Shaw, any loss of a law enforcement officer is too great a price to pay for the families and communities they protect.
I will be honored to meet with some members of the Kentucky COPS who are here in the Nation's Capital for National Police Week today in my office. Sherry Bryant is the wife of Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources officer Douglas Bryant, who was tragically killed in the line of duty back in 2003.
Laurie Stricklen is the wife of police officer James ``Stumpy'' Stricklen of the Alexandria, KY, Police Department, who suffered a fatal heart attack on March 24 as a result of injuries sustained after restraining a suspect.
Anthony Jansen is the son of police officer Anthony Jansen of the Newport Police Department, who was accidentally shot and killed while in the line of duty on December 30, 1984. His son Tony carries on his father's tradition as he is himself now a police officer.
So I am privileged to welcome all of those brave police survivors as well as the families of Officer Jason Ellis and Deputy Clay Shaw to my office today. To honor these fallen heroes and to help bring justice to those who would injure or kill our police officers, I am proud to be a cosponsor of the National Blue Alert Act. This bipartisan legislation calls for what would be equivalent to a national AMBER Alert system to efficiently share information with the public when a law enforcement officer is killed or seriously injured.
I know my colleagues in the Senate join me in holding the deepest admiration and respect for the many brave [[Page S2984]] law enforcement officers across Kentucky and the Nation. We are grateful so many have come to town for National Police Week.
We recognize theirs as both an honorable profession and a dangerous one. We recognize that what they do is vitally necessary to maintain peace and order in a civil society.