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Protecting Those Who Serve

Protect and serve. It’s a simple phrase with a big meaning. Every day, law enforcement officers across the United States confront danger to keep us safe. They protect their fellow citizens from harm, keep the peace, and carry out justice. However, this job does not come without its risks. Last year alone, 135 officers lost their lives in the line of duty, including four from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Over the past several days, communities across the Sixth District and around the country have celebrated National Police Week and honored the officers who have fallen in the line of duty. Police Week is an opportunity for us to take a few moments and reflect on how important law enforcement is to our families and neighbors. There’s a thin blue line between order and chaos, and those who put on the badge know it’s more than just patrolling our streets – it’s about protecting the rights and freedoms we as Americans hold so dear.

It’s important that America’s lawmakers stand shoulder to shoulder with the law enforcement community. During Police Week, the House of Representatives passed, with my strong support, four bipartisan House Judiciary Committee bills to help protect the lives of police, improve police and community relations, and provide resources needed to prosecute sexual assault crimes.

This includes the Protect and Serve Act, which provides a significant deterrent for those seeking to attack police officers. Attacks against police have risen dramatically in recent years, and this bill allows for the potential federal prosecution of those who knowingly assault a law enforcement officer causing serious bodily injury or attempting to do so. Additionally, the House passed the Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati Correctional Officer Self-Protection Act, named in honor of a prison guard who was murdered because of his job, which would allow correctional officers to store firearms in lockers on prison grounds while at work in order to have them available to protect themselves while commuting to and from work.

Building a strong relationship between police and the community they serve is an important priority. The House approved a resolution encouraging Congress and the President to create police and community alliances to enhance and improve communication and collaboration between the law enforcement community and the public. The Justice Served Act was also passed to provide funding for grants to ensure that state and local law enforcement has the capacity to prosecute sexual assault crimes. All four of these bills now head to the Senate where I hope they will be considered soon.

We must remember the sacrifices made by our nation’s law enforcement officers and honor them by providing tools needed to do their jobs more effectively and safely. To protect and serve is no easy task, but they do it for the benefit of us all. I thank the many men and women of our federal, state, and local law enforcement who are on duty around the clock to keep us safe. They deserve to be honored for the heroes they are.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte

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