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Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I rise to honor the service of our Nation's law enforcement officers on the occasion of National Police Week, which is taking place this year from May 15 through May 21.
Every day, in cities and towns across America, police officers put their lives on the line to protect their fellow citizens. As a State and Federal prosecutor, I was proud to work alongside so many fine law enforcement officers in Rhode Island. I saw their hard work, their dedication to protecting the public, their commitment to upholding the rule of law, and the sacrifices they made for their communities.
During National Police Week, we remember those officers who have fallen in the line of duty, and we honor their families. It is a tragedy for a single officer to be killed in the line of duty. Yet according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there were 162 law enforcement fatalities in America last year, a jump of nearly 40 percent from the year before. In 2011, the statistics are even more upsetting: as of May 12, there have already been 69 officer fatalities, a 17-percent increase from this time a year ago.
Here in the Nation's Capital, we are marking the service and loss of our country's fallen police officers through the events of National Police Week. Yesterday more than 20,000 officers gathered in Washington, DC, to observe National Peace Officers Memorial Day. I was proud to join with Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Grassley, and other members of the Senate in cosponsoring a resolution recognizing that day, and commemorating the dedication of those officers killed or injured in the line of duty.
I also wanted to highlight for my colleagues two recent events to honor this occasion in my home State.
Earlier this month, Newport hosted the 28th annual Aquidneck Island National Police Parade. Hundreds of officers from nearly every police agency in Rhode Island marched alongside more than 1,000 fellow police officers from across the Northeast and Canada.
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The marchers in Newport included Robert Shaw, the father of Providence police Sergeant Steven Shaw, who was killed in the line of duty in 1994. Mr. Shaw has been an active leader of Concerns of Police Survivors, COPS, an organization that has provided so much support to the loved ones, families, and former comrades of fallen officers. I am pleased to have joined with Senator Murkowski and other Senators on both sides of the aisle in cosponsoring a resolution recognizing the work of this organization and designating May 14, 2011, as National Police Survivors Day.
Last week, another group of Rhode Island police officers embarked on a longer march. Thirteen officers from Woonsocket marched for 4 1/2 days in the 11th annual COPSwalk to Washington, under the leadership of Sergeant Ed Cunanan. Their dedication has raised thousands of dollars to provide financial support for the families of fallen police officers.
Once again, I thank the officers across Rhode Island and our country who protect our kids, secure our communities, and bring criminals to justice. They are public servants of the highest order who have given so much of themselves for the benefit of us all. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure we do all we can to protect their safety as they fulfill their vital responsibilities.
Mrs. McCASKILL. Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to the thousands of peace officers who tirelessly serve our country and our communities. Having just commemorated Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15, I want to specifically acknowledge the 162 officers killed in 2010, including 5 from my home State of Missouri, who laid down their lives in service to others.
This past week in our Nation's Capital thousands of police officers, deputy sheriffs, State troopers, investigators, and agents gathered in fellowship as brothers and sisters united by a bond of service and sacrifice. Every year, they gather to commemorate their fallen at the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial where the names of nearly 19,000 officers who have been killed in the line of duty are etched. Nationally, the average age of the officers killed in 2010 was 41; the average length of their law enforcement service was nearly 12 years; and, on average, each officer left behind 2 children. While there is no way we can fully restore the families, the coworkers, and the communities of our fallen law enforcement professionals, we can offer solace and tribute in the hope that they know we honor them and their sacrifice.
The profession of a being a peace officer in this country is unique in many ways and its challenges are many. We expect our officers, deputies, troopers, agents, and investigators to uphold the law of the land without compromise and without blemish. We expect them to run toward the sounds of gunfire, to transform chaos into order, to provide comfort to the afflicted and injured, to protect the vulnerable, and to facilitate justice for the victimized. We ask them to do this at every hour of the day, every day of the year, in every climate and place where the American flag flies. The most amazing thing is that our peace officers exceed every one of these expectations, and for this we remain eternally grateful.
Much like our military, peace officers are ordinary men and women who choose to answer a call to become extraordinary heroes. They are our moms, our dads, our brothers, our sisters, our neighbors, and our friends. Our peace officers understand duty before self. They understand what it means to miss holiday meals with their loved ones. They understand that long hours of calm may turn into moments of intense violence. They understand they are sentinels, standing in the gap between our loved ones and those who would do them harm.
In closing, I offer my humblest and sincerest gratitude to the families and loved ones of our wonderful peace officers. They, too understand sacrifice and commitment, and without their enduring support, the men and women behind the badge would not be able to accomplish all they do. To those who wear the badge and answer the call to serve, I humbly say thank you, and I ask my fellow Senators to join me in acknowledging them.