Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve families across Texas and the country. Too many Americans have lost confidence and trust in institutions created for the purpose of keeping our communities safe. The murder of George Floyd and its aftermath reminded us how fragile the relationship is between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Thankfully, the police officers in our home district of Texas 12 have made tremendous strides over the years to build and foster trust in our community, and we owe it to them to prevent a few bad cops from soiling the reputation of the entire force.
If we take a step back today to look at the cultural landscape of our country, it’s apparent that there is tremendous unrest in our communities, in addition to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us have had to make changes to our lifestyles, while figuring out how to adjust our routines and keep our families safe. At the same time, we are also having important nationwide conversations and debates about fairness and equality for all Americans. Many different opinions, ideas, and demands are being pushed forward, some sensible—and some not.
Although many changes are being proposed with the public good in mind, in the process some among us seem to have forgotten some very basic tenets that have historically united our society and been regarded as common values. Health, safety, and security are still priorities in virtually every household. While necessary reforms to law enforcement are being debated and implemented, there also are divisive forces undermining the positive work being done by so many.
Ultimately, working together will be the key to any common sense legislation aiming to improve relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and ensuring they have the resources and training they need. One thing we must never compromise, however, is the safety of our streets and neighborhoods. Law enforcement officers selflessly put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities, and in return they deserve our unparalleled support for the irreplaceable role they serve.
Unfortunately, some are now attacking the police and dismissing the critical role that law enforcement play in our day-to-day lives. Attacking these dedicated men and women, both literally and figuratively, is having a dramatic, destructive effect on our communities. This is tearing at the very fabric of our nation and will not contribute to any meaningful or productive changes that could improve the future of our communities and our country.
As a Congress, we were elected to lead and find solutions to issues the American people are facing. Reforms at the state and local levels will be the biggest drivers of change while continuing to support our law enforcement, and we stand ready as a Congress to work with our state and local partners. This is where decisions about hiring, data sharing, and day-to-day police activities are made by highly trained police officers and sheriff’s deputies. I am also a proud original co-sponsor of the JUSTICE Act, legislation introduced in the Senate by Senator Tim Scott and in the House by my colleague and police officer of 20 years, Congressman Pete Stauber. This bill contains reforms called for by law enforcement, such as increased training, performance, and real solutions. These reforms at a federal level would ensure our police officers are better prepared to protect and care for the communities they serve.
Not only are our police departments preventing crime and keeping us safe, they are also on the frontlines of partnering with community groups and organizations working to address quality of life issues that are important to every citizen, regardless of skin color, age, political party, or background. The diverse group of officers who protect us night and day are also our neighbors, friends, and family, sharing your concerns and desire to create the best possible environment for all of our families. The contributions they make, both professionally and personally, are invaluable. They deserve our respect, appreciation, and continued support as they strive to make our lives safer, more enjoyable, and fulfilling.
As we strive for a swift return to some sense of normalcy in our lives, we must all be included in the serious process of getting there. Reckless and irresponsible ideas that negatively affect police officers subsequently will hurt every one of us. I strongly urge that we use common sense as our guide and return to the best practices and shared values that have always brought peace and prosperity to this great nation. Every person – regardless of skin color, political party, age, or background – must be willing to do the work.
Member of Congress