Since becoming the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, I have had the privilege of getting to know and working with many of West Virginia’s law enforcement officers, federal, state and local.
Standing beside these brave men and women has truly been one of my greatest honors. In fact, the license plate on my F-150 is “Back the Blue,” license plate number “0001,” which I display with immense pride. There is no more noble a profession.
Public safety is of the utmost importance to all of us. While our military protects us from international threats, law enforcement serves the role of protecting the nation from domestic threats. They are on the front lines and our first line of defense. Law enforcement officers selflessly serve our communities to keep us safe so that we can live our lives freely and peacefully.
As the top federal law enforcement official in the southern part of our great state, I too share the responsibility of reducing violent crime and keeping West Virginians safe. The successes of my office are achieved as a direct result of the strong partnerships forged with the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies with whom we work. Literally, we couldn’t do it without every one of them.
This week is National Police Week. President John F. Kennedy issued the first proclamation designating May 15 of every year as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the entire week is designated National Police Week to remember and honor law enforcement for their service and sacrifices.
Due to COVID-19, many of the public events scheduled to celebrate law enforcement have been canceled, but there is absolutely nothing that can cancel our deep respect and appreciation for the work of law enforcement and the sacrifices they make. They are truly heroes among us.
I am profoundly grateful that in West Virginia’s 260 law enforcement agencies, no lives were lost in the line of duty last year. Tragically, however, according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, 135 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2019 while serving in more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.
I offer my prayers to all of the families of the officers and agents who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and assure them, “We shall never forget. We shall never forget you, your sacrifices and your commitment to your fellow man.”
The names of the 135 officers killed in the line of duty have been added to the wall at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., and their names will be read during a virtual candlelight vigil. Each of those names is more than letters on a memorial. Each of those heroes was a mom or dad, daughter or son, spouse and in every case each was beloved and is sorely missed by those left behind.
During National Police Week and throughout the year, I encourage West Virginians to join me in expressing appreciation to the men and women of law enforcement who devote their lives to protect and serve our communities.
To the brave men and women of law enforcement, I thank you for your partnership and the assistance you provide my office in the administration of justice and maintaining the rule of law. I commend you for your service, dedication and personal sacrifices. I thank your families for their sacrifices in the performance of your service.
The Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr and the great people of West Virginia “Back the Blue.” We “have your backs.” As far as this U.S. attorney is concerned, every week is Police Week.