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Cotton Delivers Floor Speech about National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

January 11, 2016

Contact: Caroline Rabbitt (202) 224-2353

This past Saturday, January 9th, was Law Enforcement Appreciation Day-a day set aside to honor the men and women who work in law enforcement keeping our communities safe and enforcing the rule of law, which underpins any free and just society. Recently, we've heard a great deal about controversies and scrutiny surrounding law enforcement in many parts of our country. It's easy to be distracted by these stories, but it's important to remember that many are inaccurate and even the true ones are the exception, not the rule.

The rule is officers like Little Rock Police Officer Shawn Bakr. On Saturday, Officer Bakr spent his Law Enforcement Appreciation Day and his night off working as a security guard at a local restaurant. During his shift, three armed men entered the restaurant and pointed a gun at an employee in an attempted robbery. Officer Bakr's law enforcement instincts kicked-in and he reacted with calm dispatch. He confronted the suspects, who subsequently shot him in the shoulder, yet he bravely managed to return fire and injure one of the robbers. The other two suspects fled, but have since been apprehended after a stand-off with Little Rock police earlier today.

The rule is also county sheriffs like Johnson County Reserve Deputy Sonny Smith, who died in the line of duty last year after he was shot while responding to a burglary. Deputy Smith confronted danger head-on to protect his fellow Arkansans, and he gave the full measure of devotion to duty that only those called to serve on the front lines can fully understand.

The rule is also the large group of Deputy Smith's law enforcement colleagues who stood to the right of the stage--in the place typically reserved for parents--and saluted during his son's high-school graduation ceremony just hours after his death so he would feel the support and love of the law enforcement community to which his dad belonged.

As a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan, my soldiers and I knew what it meant to face our enemy head on. But at the end of our tours, we went home. Many of us worked much less dangerous jobs at military bases around the country until our next tour or we left the service. For law enforcement officers, there is no end to the tour: they take risks every single day, often for the lengths of their careers. Officer Bakr's and Deputy Smith's actions are heroic by any definition, but to them and to countless other law enforcement officers across the country, that's simply part of the job description. Each day they go to work, our law enforcement personnel around the country put themselves in harms way to keep us and our communities' safe.

So to all of our law enforcement officers-the men and women who serve with the selfless dedication of Shawn Bakr and Sonny Smith: thank you for your service and for your sacrifice. May God Bless you and your families and keep you safe.