My great-uncle, Philip Fitzpatrick, was a proud patrolman with the NYPD. He was also a poet, often writing about the world he knew as a “soldier of peace.” As we’ve recognized Police Week 2017, I’ve found myself thinking of him and a line from one of his poems where he wrote: “When he kisses his wife and children goodbye, there’s the chance he will see them no more.”

Unfortunately, these words were true for my family. This month marks 70 years since my great-uncle was shot while attempting to disarm a robber at a Manhattan bar – a fatal injury he succumbed to days later.

The times have changed, but the danger faced by our law enforcement community remains.

According to the National Association of Police Organizations, ambush-style killings of law enforcement officers increased by 167-percent last year. Despite this fact, each day, tens of thousands of brave men and women in blue put their lives on the line in the service and protection of their communities. As a former member of the law enforcement community, I’ve seen this display of duty first hand.

Each May, we recognize Police Week – a time to recognize the service and profound commitment of our police officers, honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, and recommit ourselves to the ideals and laws of our nation that they are tasked to uphold. But the dedication and sacrifice of our Blue Line deserves to be respected every day.

I am committed to working to ensure our law enforcement community has the protection it deserves, the tools it needs and the support it has completely earned. I was proud to join with the House in passing several pro-police measures this week, including:

  • Rapid DNA Act of 2017 (H.R. 510) – This bill helps identify the guilty and free the innocent by allowing Rapid DNA analysis machines to be used at local police stations. Rapid DNA technology expedites DNA analysis for suspect identification purposes and allows local law enforcement to accurately identify a suspect within hours, as opposed to weeks when evidence is shipped off to a lab.
  • Honoring Hometown Heroes Act (H.R. 1892) – This legislation honors law enforcement by permitting the American flag to be flown at half-staff when a police officer, firefighter, or first responder is killed in the line of duty.
  • Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act of 2017 (H.R. 1616) – This bill authorizes a program that has been run by the U.S. Secret Service for a number of years that trains state and local law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges regarding cyber and electronic crimes.
  • American Law Enforcement Heroes Act of 2017 (H.R. 1428) – This legislation prioritizes the hiring of veterans by awardees of grants under the COPS Hiring program.
  • Thin Blue Line Act (H.R. 115) – This legislation sends a clear message to those who intentionally target our police officers: vicious attacks on law enforcement will be met with justice. H.R. 115 establishes stricter penalties for the murder or attempted murder of a police officer, firefighter or other first responder.

But there is more work to be done. A good place to begin would be passing my bipartisan Children of Fallen Heroes Act which would provide a boost of education aid for the children of law enforcement and first responders who have died in the line of duty. I’m proud this bill is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), National Association of Police Organizations, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), Major Cities Chiefs Association, and others.

National Police Week is a special time to unite – nationwide – to honor those who sacrifice so much to protect our neighborhoods, and our loved ones. Let’s carry that feeling throughout the year.