Weekly Columns

Thanking Our Heroes

National Police Week

May 17 2013

Heroes don’t always wear body armor, a cape or a mask, but they do always show courage, commitment and sacrifice for keeping us safe. There is long history of heroes in Arkansas who wear a badge, from the early days of the Marshal Service to today’s law enforcement personnel. We have a lot to be thankful for as we honor these brave men and women as part of National Police Week. 

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week which that date falls as National Police Week. We honor the 321 officers whose names have been added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, including Arkansas Department of Correction Sergeant Barbara Ester who died in January 2012 and former Johnson County Sheriff John Hall Powers who was shot and killed while trying to stop a bank robbery in 1902. 

We recognize the devotion of the 900,000 law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to make our communities safer. 

Law enforcement faces unique challenges today and we are providing the best tools and training to prepare them for unpredictable situations. As our world changes so do the threats we face. The key to being equipped for these unexpected events is to prepare for these emerging threats. That’s why a lot of law enforcement training today focuses on domestic terrorism. Look no further than the Boston Police Department that became the first line of defense against terrorism during the Boston Marathon bombing. 

In order to keep our communities safe, we are challenged to develop the newest training techniques and prepare for a wide range of incidents. We have great resources in Arkansas that provide our officers with advanced training. 

I recently attended a graduation ceremony at the Black River Technical College Law Enforcement Training Academy in Pocahontas. This program offers different tracks in police work such as crime scene investigation, criminal training and police training with hands-on instruction and the currently available resources to allow for the best work possible. There was a great group of graduates who are excited to use the skills they learned in the field. 

One of the most important things that our law enforcement officers need to know is that they have the support of the community including all levels of government. We are trying to find ways to be fiscally responsible while providing the tools our officers need. 

A good example is a bill I sponsored to provide law enforcement officials with the tools they need to help to protect courthouses in rural areas. The Local Courthouse Safety Act would provide local courts with access to security training, give states authority to use existing grant money to improve courthouse security and cut through bureaucratic red tape, giving local courts access to excess federal security equipment, such as metal detectors and screening devices. 

I thank the law enforcement officers in Arkansas and across the country who dedicate their lives to protecting our children and communities and seek to bring criminals to justice. These heroes come to our rescue when we need help and I am committed to providing them with the tools and the resources they need to fulfill their responsibilities.