President Donald Trump spoke plainly Wednesday in declaring his support for law enforcement.
He called for the death penalty for anyone convicted of murdering a law enforcement officer. Trump also said “those who file false police reports should face full legal consequences” — an apparent reference to actor Jussie Smollett, suspected of faking a race-motivated hate crime in Chicago.
Trump spoke in Washington to a large crowd of cops, survivors of slain officers, and politicians gathered for the 38th annual memorial service for officers killed in the line of duty. The service falls in the middle of National Police Week, which began Sunday and ends Saturday.
“Our men and women in blue are no longer seen as peace officers who are there to serve and protect,” said Chuck Canterbury, national president of the 346,000-member Fraternal Order of Police, in an introduction of Trump.
“Instead we have become targets of scorn and disrespect, and all too often of violence.”
Canterbury complimented the president for unwavering support of law enforcement. He looks forward to the day Congress hands Trump a “Protect and Serve Act” to sign into law. The law would designate law enforcement officers as a protected class, imposing federal hate crimes penalties on acts of violence against them. It is a great idea.
It is long past time our country’s leaders emphasize protecting those who risk their lives protecting and serving the public.
Without good law enforcement, nothing else works. Without the men and women in blue, we lose our cars to criminals. We lose our homes. We are not safe to walk the streets. Businesses lose inventory to thieves. Our money is not safe in banks.
This is not theory. Lack of honest law enforcement is a condition common among impoverished, underdeveloped countries. When lives and property are not safe, no one has the ability to produce the services and goods essential to humanity’s well-being.
Without civil liberties, we cannot flourish. Gun rights, free speech, freedom of association and property rights mean nothing without law enforcement personnel sworn to uphold them.
“The American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness starts with those who protect us from tyranny,” Canterbury said. “Security is the most important role of government.”
Police work has never been without risk. In recent decades, car crashes posed the greatest hazard. As hostility toward cops has grown, fomented by left-wing activists and sensational media, shootings of officers have increased. In 2018, gun murders killed more officers than crashes for the first time since the 1980s.
“There were 106 law enforcement officer deaths in 2018 alone; 55 of those officers were killed feloniously,” says an article about Police Week on the FBI’s website.
“Each death leaves a family mourning, a department missing a colleague, and a community going without one of the men or women who worked to keep them safe.”
In acknowledging Police Week, the FBI is highlighting eight cases involving six officers slain by suspects who remain uncaptured.
Colorado has never been immune from violence against cops. Just five weeks into 2018, suspects had shot 10 officers here. Among three killed was El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick. During that time frame, Colorado had half the country’s lethal shootings of cops.
Rue the day police work becomes so disrespected, so dangerous, that we suffer serious shortages of law enforcement officers. If that happens, we won’t recognize our country.
Communities must always be vigilant to ensure officers have adequate safety equipment and compensation, and a surplus of vocal community support.
And, yes, Congress should send Trump the “Protect and Serve Act.” Make it a “hate crime” to attack anyone working to keep the peace.
This Police Week, and throughout the year, give thanks to our law enforcement officers. Because of them, we enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The Gazette editorial board
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