Recognizing Our Law Enforcement Agenciesby Representative Doug LaMalfa
Posted on 2015-01-27
LaMALFA. Mr. Speaker, thank you to my colleague from Washington,
Mr. Reichert, for this opportunity and, really, privilege to be able to
speak about those in law enforcement that are really on duty for us
every day and being able to support and show my gratitude for them
across our country because we know that they are there daily to keep us
safe and secure in our communities.
They have an incredibly important role and a vital responsibility to uphold our rule of law, which is the core of our Constitution and ensures everyone is accountable under the law. Everyone needs to be accountable under the law. That is a huge responsibility.
It is up to us, whether it is in Congress or at the State legislative level or local government, to make sure that they have the tools that they need to do their job. In the time of budget cuts and other constraints put on them, their job gets that much harder; indeed, sometimes, they feel handcuffed in their ability to do their work.
When you speak to the officers sometimes--they always have an air of professionalism about them, but when you [[Page H631]] really get down to it, sometimes, they don't feel very appreciated and that they don't have the tools to do what they need because of things sometimes the government does or frivolous lawsuits, for example.
We even sometimes see our elected officials participating in vilifying our people in law enforcement. That is really, really irresponsible because we are all in this together, us as lawmakers and those in the executive branch down to our beat officer that has that responsibility. We are supposed to work together in upholding the law and making sure they have the tools, as well as providing oversight.
We want to make sure everybody is behaving the way they should, but as we see so hyped lately with a tiny, tiny minority of incidents out there compared to the contacts--I heard a statistic the other day, much less than 1 percent of contacts that officers have with the public results in any kind of physical action needed, much less than 1 percent; yet you would think, from all the hype, from all the media, it was a much higher number than that.
The vast majority of it is an officer helping you out. You have brushes with the law here and there, but they are very professional in what they do. What you really need to do is step into their shoes for a minute, think about where they have come from to get where they are.
They had to have a very clean record to get through background to be accepted into academy and be accepted into whatever force that they are working in. It is a high bar. You can't have a bad record in your background. They have chosen to come forward and put themselves at risk.
Look what they go through each day in their jobs if they have made it through academy and were brought on to a force. If they are called into a situation, they don't really have the option of saying: No, I am not going to go.
If someone has called from a home, they have a domestic problem, what have you, they have got to get to a solution because someone's lives may be at stake inside that home, even though there might be something outside that would make you or I uncomfortable, a mean dog in the yard or some characters hanging around outside that you wouldn't normally want to deal with. They have to get to a solution on that because somebody called them, somebody dialed 911, and we expect that they are going to get to a solution.
Officers have to go into every situation prepared for the worst because it could mean their life, maybe their partner's life, or someone else in a vulnerable situation that has called upon them.
If you think about being in their shoes, we all have a responsibility to make their jobs simpler. It could even help us in not being in a mistaken situation because they have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
I can certainly feel for them in that they might be a little stressed on every call, every car they might pull over for speeding or a broken taillight or having to answer to someone's household or even a bigger deal like a bank robbery.
They have to be prepared every moment because it is their life or the other lives around them. They have to have the protocol and the training to know how to handle that situation just right.
When you look at that high bar, you look at the amount of stress that they are going through to do that, they do an amazing, remarkable job of getting it right; so we need to give them a little grace, a little room to do their job as best they can.
Then we have a responsibility as regular citizens to make their job easier. If they ask for your driver's license and ID, just give it to them. If they ask you to stay in the car so that they can see where your hands are and stuff--they don't know who else is in that car--make it where they can do their job, and you are going to have a heck of a lot better interaction with them.
Use basic common sense. There are instructions out there how to get along with that. I have even seen comedians out there saying how not to get in trouble with the police.
Pay attention to the common sense on that because we need them more so than ever in a country that is becoming less and less safe, it seems, from outside threats, as well as people within that don't seem to understand the rule of law and sometimes governing officials that don't seem to care about upholding it. We all have the responsibility as citizens.
Those costs have been high because, in the previous year, well over 100 officers have been lost in the line of duty--and that is tragic-- trying to defend us.
I am glad to be able to stand here today with my colleague from Washington to recognize their bravery, their devotion, and for all of us to remember how to make their job a little bit easier.