The Thin Blue Line

May 19, 2017
by Congressman Bruce Westerman

I am a firm believer that those who service in blue deserve the highest form of respect and gratitude. May 15-19 is National Police Week, a time when tens of thousands of law enforcement officers gather in the Nation’s Capital, a tradition that began in 1962. The recent murder of Lieutenant Kevin C. Mainhart in Yell County reminds us all of the risks faced by law enforcement.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 292 Arkansas officers have died in the line of duty in our state’s long history. I would like to take a moment and express my thoughts and prayers to the friends and families that have lost loved ones through similar heartbreaking circumstances both in Arkansas and across the country. The safety of our hometowns is of paramount importance. That is why the House of Representatives has passed legislation to strengthen our security and protect the men and women in blue.

Last week, I voted for H.R. 1892, appropriately named Honoring Hometown Heroes Act. This bipartisan legislation awards governors jurisdiction to fly a U.S. flag at half-staff to pay respect in the event that a first responder loses his or her life in the line of duty. We must pay proper respect to the courageous officers who make the ultimate sacrifice.

I voted for H.R. 1428, the American Law Enforcement Heroes Act of 2017, a bill aimed at preventing violent crime in our communities. The bill would allow funds from the Community Oriented Policing Services program to be used to hire and train law enforcement officers who are veterans. There are undeniable parallels between military veterans and police officers – selfless individuals who wear their uniforms with pride and sacrifice for the greater good of us all and have the training to keep us safe. Placing more police on the streets with specialized training gained through military service will keep our communities safe and reduce the threat of violent crime to civilians and police alike.

National Police Week serves as an important reminder that the safety and freedoms we are accustomed to as Americans, results from the supreme sacrifice of our friends and neighbors. I am proud to back the blue and encourage you to join me as I say thank you to law enforcement officers this week.