Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 291 supports the goals and ideals of Peace Officers Memorial Day, our Nation's first line of defenders. I would also like to thank the 78 Members of Congress who cosponsored this bipartisan resolution for their support.
Law enforcement officers are a special type of people. They put on the uniform and the badge of a law officer. They swear an oath to uphold the law of our land and vow to protect the citizens of all communities.
In carrying out their duties, law enforcement officers are routinely subjected to threats against their personal safety. According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, more than 56,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted every year in the line of duty. They are subjected to being slapped, punched, kicked, bit, stabbed, and even shot by suspects. And this does not include what could happen in the course of high-speed chases that occur throughout our country.
Most of these peace officers that are assaulted walk away from that fight with minor injuries and the suspect generally is carted off to jail in handcuffs. There are those community protectors, however, that aren't as fortunate, because they give their lives in the line of duty.
Since the first recorded police department death in 1792, over 17,900 peace officers have been killed while performing the duty of a law officer somewhere in this great country. Statistics show that every 53 hours a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty. Last year, 2006, 143 officers were killed in the line of duty.
We all remember September 11 and what occurred on that day, how many of us watched on television when those planes hit the World Trade Center, when they hit the Pentagon; how thousands of people, good people, as soon as that terror hit those buildings, those people were running as fast as they could to get away from that danger.
But there was another group of people, not very many, but they were there running as fast as they could to get to the danger, and those were the people who wear the badge. That also included our firefighters and our emergency medical technicians. Seventy-two of those peace officers that ran to those buildings that were being assaulted from the air were killed in the line of duty that one day.
Of course, it strikes all communities, even our community down in Beaumont, Texas, and the Beaumont Police Department and its recent tragedy of a peace officer killed in the line of duty. Last week, this community suffered the loss of one of their own, Officer Lisa Beaulieu, the first female peace officer in southeast Texas that has been killed in the line of duty.
She was a 6-year veteran of the Beaumont Police Department. She was on patrol by herself at 1 a.m. when she responded to the scene of a motorcycle accident in Beaumont. As she got out of her vehicle and started directing traffic, a drunk driver slammed into her, throwing her over the side of the freeway and killing her. It was a tragic end for a peace officer that loved to protect the people of our Nation.
Mr. Speaker, during the time that I was a judge in Texas for over 22 years, I encountered many, many peace officers who wore the badge, and proudly did so; and I considered those peace officers who would do that, that cross over the line to represent the rest of us and protect us, a rare and noble breed.
So on Tuesday, May 15, thousands of local, State and Federal peace officers will gather across the Nation to remember their fellow officers. Known as National Peace Officers Memorial Day, established by President Kennedy in 1962, the day serves as a tribute to the men and women who daily put themselves in harm's way to ensure the safety and security of our country and our Nation. The flags will be lowered at half mast and ceremonies will be held across the entire country.
The national memorial ceremony is held right here on the lawn of the United States Capitol, where the President of the United States, thousands of law enforcement officers, and Members of Congress will be there. Those officers that are in attendance, their badges will be draped in black as a remembrance of their fellow officers who were killed in the line of duty.
Law enforcement officers are the first line of defense between law-abiding citizens and those who violate the law. They are public servants who dedicate their time and their lives to protect us. They wear the badge of courage with pride, and we as a Nation need to honor them for their service of the American people.
I hope that our Congress, these folks in this body, will pass this legislation as fast as possible.