Saluting Texas Peace Officers
By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn
On May 13, during National Police Week, the names of more than 300 fallen law enforcement officers will be dedicated on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. The monument, formally dedicated in 1981, pays tribute to federal, state and local law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. Different from other national memorials, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial changes every spring, when new names are added to honor those killed in the previous year, as well as officers killed in years past whose information was only recently made available.
Of this year's 324 names, more than 50 individuals are from Texas, including 10 officers killed in the line of duty in 2009. As Texans, it is a fitting time for us to consider the many contributions and sacrifices our law enforcement officers have made to keep us and our families safe and secure.
I recently had the privilege of meeting with a group of law enforcement officers in El Paso Ã¯Â¿Â½ men and women who are working around the clock under particularly unique and difficult challenges along our southern border. From school police to Texas Rangers and the El Paso Chief of Police Ã¯Â¿Â½ I heard directly from these individuals on the real security threats that exist for Texans in connection with cartel and gang-related violence in Mexico. The threat of spillover violence has become a fact of life for many families and business owners who live along the Texas-Mexico border. More than ever, our border law enforcement is in need of additional personnel as well as the latest technology and tools they need to carry out their jobs and secure the region. With their valuable input, I was pleased to introduce legislation that would fast-track new funding directly to law enforcement within 100 miles of our southern border. The Southern Border Security Assistance Act would create a $300 million border grant program to quickly secure additional hires, new equipment, and upgrades to critical information systems.
As the former Attorney General of Texas, I learned firsthand the challenges our law enforcement officers in Texas face, and that insight has helped me determine several legislative priorities as your U.S. Senator. During my career in the Senate, I've supported a number of efforts to support our law enforcement officers and their families. I introduced the Daniel Faulkner Law Enforcement Officers and Judges Protection Act, which would curb frivolous lawsuits against police officers and impose mandatory sentences for crimes against federal law enforcement officers. I also cosponsored the Gang Abatement and Prevention Act, which would establish new, tougher penalties to deter and punish members of street gangs. It would provide more than $1 billion in funding for gang enforcement, prevention and intervention programs. I also continue to support the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program to reimburse Texas communities for the cost of incarcerating criminal illegal aliens. Immigration reform is the obligation of the federal government, and Texas communities shouldn't have to foot the bill for the government's failures.
From policemen and women to sheriffs, constables, detention officers and game wardensÃ¯Â¿Â½Texas peace officers are widely respected for their skill and professionalism. They work tirelessly to pursue criminals and protect Texans, whether it's in the inner-cities of some of the country's largest metropolitan areas like Houston and Dallas, or across the miles of rural Texas terrain. They secure our schools, airports, highways and parks, and they are often the first to respond to natural disasters, emergencies and terrorism threats.
Sadly, peace officers face daily dangers in their line of work, which sometimes lead to tragic consequences. While we can never express enough gratitude for their heroism and sacrifice, each of us can do our part to show Texas law enforcement and their families our support and respect.
During this year's National Police Week I hope we can offer a Texas-sized "thank you" to our law enforcement community and take the time to remember the heroes who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.
Sen. Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary, Agriculture, and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee's Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.