Remembering National Police Week – The Highland County Press

By U.S. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer

Corporal Benjamin Cooper of Joplin has dedicated his life to service to our country. After his eight years of service in the United States Army, he moved to Missouri and joined the Joplin Police Department.

Corporal Cooper was shot and killed by an assailant in the line of duty on March 8 and is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Officer Jake Reed joined the Joplin Police Department after graduating with honors from Missouri Southern State University. Officer Reed was also shot while on duty on March 8 and ultimately lost his life days later. He was only 27 years old and as an organ donor, he gave the gift of life to several lucky recipients. Officer Reed and his wife would have celebrated their first wedding anniversary last Sunday.

And Officer Lane Burns of Bonne Terre was killed in the line of duty on March 17. His nine-year-old daughter and five-year-old son will now only live off the memory of the father who should have been able to raise them. and watch them become the people they will become.

Missouri lost three law enforcement officers in the span of 20 days. In less than three weeks, three families have experienced the worst day of their lives and will suffer this loss for decades. These children will grow up without a father, the spouses will forever miss their other half, and the parents will live the rest of their lives with a void in their hearts that nothing can ever fill.

I was very proud to sponsor a House resolution with some of my colleagues to honor these fallen officers. While a resolution is not enough to appropriately thank these men for their service, and it certainly will not ease the pain of their families, I hope it lets them know that their loss and the sacrifices of their loved ones have not gone unnoticed. We are eternally grateful to Officers Burns, Reed and Cooper and have their families in our prayers. This resolution will ensure that their names will go down in history as heroes.

Violence against our country’s law enforcement officers – the very people who pledge to put their lives on the line to protect us – continues to soar and it must stop. In 2022, the US homicide rate rose 48% and police shootings rose 38%, compared to this time in 2020. As chants of “defund the police” erupted in liberal regions of the country, twelve major American cities broke homicide records in 2021. Childish and unrealistic policies are costing us the lives of community members and police officers who answer the call to protect us.

Another (I believe intended) consequence of policies that portray criminals as victims and heroes as villains is the hiring and retention of officers. With retirements up 45%, law enforcement across the country is struggling to recruit new officers as the work continues to grow increasingly dangerous. And it’s no wonder. Radical prosecutors across the country actively prevent criminals that officers arrest from going to jail and continually undermine our criminal justice system.

They refuse to prosecute violent offenders because they ridiculously believe that people who rape, assault or steal are victims of a system. Budget cuts combined with an increase in the number of criminals walking free on the streets are a slap in the face for police officers and the communities they serve. I have continually supported policies that not only prevent cuts to policing, but provide extra support to officers who badly need it.

We need police officers, and I hope that in the coming year they will have the full support of Congress. It’s the least we can do.

National Police Week is a hugely important time to thank law enforcement who wake up every morning and put themselves in harm’s way to protect us. This time every year, different law enforcement agencies come to Washington, DC to come together, share stories, defend our nation’s law enforcement, and remember the dead.

Last week on the National Mall, the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund held its annual candlelight vigil. The names of the officers we have lost in the line of duty are engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the names were read aloud during this solemn ceremony. It is a heartbreaking but beautiful tribute to these national heroes.

Please join me in thanking a police officer. They are in danger as everyone flees, and we are so lucky to have these brave officers protecting our families and our communities every day.