Chairman Green Honors Police Officers During National Police Week

WASHINGTON—Today, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green gave the following statement during a hearing titled, “Standing Strong on the Thin Blue Line: How Congress Can Support State and Local Law Enforcement,” which examined the challenges facing state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement. Gregory Mays, Deputy Commissioner of Homeland Security, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security also provided testimony during this hearing.  

Watch Chairman Green’s Opening Statement

Read Chairman Green’s Opening Statement: 

Good morning, we are here today to honor and recognize law enforcement officers nationwide during National Police Week. 

While our nation has always been grateful to our men and women in law enforcement, beginning in 1962, we officially began recognizing their bravery, sacrifice, and unwavering commitment to public safety on the 15th of May. Supporting our men and women in law enforcement should not be reserved for one week out of the year. Our nation should be grateful every day to this unique group of men and women who risk their lives for our freedom and who serve our communities with a distinct sense of duty and honor.

There’s a saying that service is the rent we pay for living on Earth. Our men and women who protect us daily pay the ultimate service, and far too often, the ultimate sacrifice. Last year, 136 law enforcement officers were tragically killed in the line of duty; this year, there have been 56 and countless others injured.

Just a few weeks ago, on April 16th, Police Officer Michael Jensen of the Syracuse Police Department and Lieutenant Michel Hoosock, of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office in New York, were both shot and killed while attempting to locate a subject who had led officers on a vehicle pursuit.  

Officer Jensen served with the Syracuse Police Department for two and a half years and is survived by his parents and sister. Lieutenant Hoosock served with the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office for 16 years. He is survived by his wife and three children. I know for them and for their colleagues, this loss is incomprehensible.

In early May, four law enforcement officers were killed in Charlotte, North Carolina while attempting to serve a warrant to a convicted felon, and four more were injured. A former Durham-based Marshals Service Task Force Officer stated that he cannot remember another time in his 35-year career when eight officers were attacked in one incident. 

From violent attacks on law enforcement to the significant increase in crime across the country, it is an understatement to say that Americans no longer feel safe in their communities. We must provide reassurance to law-abiding citizens by holding law breakers accountable, and let the level of accountability serve as a deterrence to others.

Tough prosecution and proper sentencing are not only examples of holding criminals accountable for their actions, but send a message that Federal, State, and local jurisdictions will do what is necessary to protect their citizens.

Even more important, this action will communicate to our law enforcement officers our appreciation and our commitment to equipping them with the resources required to fulfill their duties.

Increasing crime rates and obstacles to prosecuting criminals are challenging enough, but dealing with these difficulties without adequate manpower and funding adds to the burden that law enforcement agencies across the nation are confronting.

Law enforcement agencies are not only grappling with unprecedented challenges in recruiting new personnel, but are also contending with attrition rates and budget reductions. These factors hinder law enforcement agencies’ ability to fulfill their obligation to safeguard Americans and obstruct police departments nationwide from accessing the necessary resources to enhance officer training and in so doing these factors increase the risks of the men and women in blue who risk all for us every day. 

By reducing law enforcement budgets, police departments will face the tough decision of either lowering their recruitment standards or being unable to fulfill their hiring requirements. This Committee plays a crucial role in overseeing the Department of Homeland Security, which aims to assist State, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies in ensuring the safety, security, and resilience of our communities.

We continue to focus on ensuring that information is efficiently shared between the federal government and state and local law enforcement agencies to combat the wide variety of threats from criminals and terrorists. 

Different parts of our country have their own unique challenges when it comes to dealing with crime. It is important that we ensure that DHS is properly supporting both metropolitan and rural communities as they confront these challenges.

Today, I hope that we can examine the ways DHS supports these law enforcement agencies and identify new ways to improve. We should all work to ensure that the resources provided by DHS are effective in assisting law enforcement as they work to carry out their important mission.

Lastly, it’s crucial that as a nation, we regain a sense of appreciation and respect for the men and women in law enforcement who serve our communities, and who pay the ultimate sacrifice for our protection.  

We have a distinguished panel of witnesses to testify about the daily challenges, successes, and strategies their officers encounter in dealing with various issues within their departments and communities. 

Thank you again to our witnesses for being with us this morning, and I look forward to this important discussion.