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Hoyer Floor Remarks on National Police Week

WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this evening during a Special Order Hour with House Democrats, hosted by Representative Val Demings (FL-10), in honor of National Police Week. Below is a link to the video and a transcript of his remarks: “Mr. Speaker, colleagues, it is appropriate that we stand and speak on behalf of the law enforcement community of our country. As the former Chief of the Orlando Police just said, ‘it is because of them that we have law and order.’ Democracy cannot survive without law and order.   “So I want to thank the gentlelady from Florida, Mrs. Demings, for leading this Special Order Hour, for so many Democrats and Republicans participating. She is, as so many Americans now know, not only an outstanding Member of the Congress but also a former Chief of Police for the City of Orlando, Florida. And I might say, a serious candidate being considered by President Biden for Vice President of the United States. She's not only the only one in our caucus who has worked in law enforcement overseeing police departments as Mayor, but certainly one of the most experienced.   “As we observe National Police Week, this year we do at a time when we are engaged in a national conversation about justice in policing. Tonight, we want to make it clear, this important dialogue does not detract one iota from the deep and abiding respect that all of us - Democrats, Republicans, independents, Americans - have for the men and women who dedicate their careers to protecting their communities, their neighbors, their friends in law enforcement. I do not believe – I want to make it clear – in defunding police. That is neither my view nor my party's platform. Indeed, we honor law enforcement.   “Over the years, I’ve been proud to join my Democratic colleagues as a strong supporter of law enforcement and to raise awareness of the very serious dangers that police are faced while doing their jobs. Officer Chestnut and Detective Gibson in 1998 were slain, one in my office and one outside the door of my office. They were brave and good people who lost their lives defending the Capitol of the United States.   “In my state of Maryland and in the Fifth District, I work closely with police chiefs, sheriffs, and departments to ensure their needs are being met. And together, we work to make certain that those who have fallen in the line of duty receive the benefits, help, compassion, and appreciation they deserve. Every year, until it became virtual – and now I do it virtually – I have gone down to the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. 22,611 Americans, law enforcement officers, have lost their lives keeping the peace.   “Last year, Mr. Speaker, America lost 295 police officers in the line of duty. It's a dangerous duty, but it is a critical duty. Here in the Capitol, we remember those who have given their lives to protect this institution. I mentioned Officer Chestnut and Detective Gibson. Howard Liebengood, Officer William Evans, and, of course, Officer Sicknick. The actions just laid out are ones that Congress, House Democrats, believe are important to protecting those who keep us safe every day.   “But I believe, Mr. Speaker, it is equally essential for the efficacy and safety of law enforcement to take positive and proactive steps to ensure accountability and rebuild trust in our departments. That's true of our institution, Mr. Speaker, and when we hold accountable one of our members, as we have done, it does not besmirch the rest of our members, and no one ought to simplify that one is like all. To do that, we must continue the important national conversations about justice in policing and rooting out racial bias that corrodes effective police work. The majority, Mr. Speaker, are among those most concerned about ensuring that those that cannot carry out their work of policing are held accountable. That's why we passed the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act. Congress has a responsibility to deal with this challenge, not only for the sake of justice and public safety, but also in order to help police departments better carry out their missions, and to raise the respect and support they receive from the American public. Such a policy is not designed to defund police or to lessen the impact of the vital function that law enforcement officers perform.

“So, as we join in observing Police Week this year, let us remember all those, those 22,000-plus, those 275 brave men and women protecting us and the peacefulness of our communities. Let us continue to support law enforcement by striving to help police officers and departments face this moment head-on and emerge stronger, safer, more trusted, and better equipped to keep all Americans safe. I yield back the balance of my time.”