“Thank you Chairman Goodlatte and thank you Representative Nadler for your support of this legislation.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 5698, the Protect and Serve Act of 2018. This important bill will enhance penalties for anyone who intentionally causes harm to law enforcement officers.
“Mr. Chairman, I can tell you after dedicating more than 40 years of my life to law enforcement, I know what officers go through every day when they put that uniform on, say goodbye to their families, and walk out the door to protect our communities.
“Sadly, we have seen a recent increase in violence against officers, especially in ambush style attacks. In fact, just last month in Florida, Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey were eating lunch, and were specifically targeted and assassinated, simply because they were police officers and wore that blue uniform.
“And they are not alone. So far this year, 87 law enforcement officers have been shot in the line of duty – 28 of whom ultimately lost their lives. Mr. Speaker, this is 75% higher than this time last year.
“For this reason, I introduced bipartisan legislation with my good friend and former Orlando Police Chief, Representative Val Demings, that will ensure that there are the strongest possible penalties for anyone who decides to target and harm not only federal law enforcement officers, but also local and state officers.
“We worked on this bill closely with the Fraternal Order of Police and are proud to have earned the support of the National Association of Police Organizations, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, and the Major County Sheriffs of America, which represent thousands of officers from around the country.
“This week, we remember the officers who have given their lives protecting our communities, and we as members of congress must show the law enforcement community across this country that we support them and the important work that they do, day in and day out. We must also show that those who wish target police officers with violence, that attacks will not be tolerated. I urge all Members to join me today in supporting this legislation.
“And before I yield back Mr. Speaker, I should mention and I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t, that just yesterday morning, in Jacksonville, Florida, as mentioned earlier by my good friend from Washington, Sheriff Reichert, who held a moment of silence for those officers who gave their lives in service to this community.
“And yesterday morning at about 4:00 in the morning, during a horrible storm in Jacksonville, Officer LW gave his life on Police Memorial Day, in service to this community. I have to say, Police Week, and Law Enforcement Memorial Day always remind me of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said:
‘The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.’
“I offer this bill in memory of Officer Lance Whitaker, who died yesterday morning, living well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield back the remainder of my time.”