A free society depends on the rule of law, which is the foundation for public order and peace.
Police are the indispensable guardians of that law. We rightfully honor them for the risks they assume every morning when they put on their badge—and sometimes the bulletproof vest—knowing they may not come home that night to take them off.
But police have a sworn duty to wield their power with justice. They take an oath never to betray their “character or the public trust.” They must hold themselves to the highest standard—and overwhelmingly do so. But in cases when they do not, the consequences can be devastating.
What happened to George Floyd in Minnesota was horrific. He was killed by police officers—dying at the hands of men who pledge to protect and serve their communities.
I’m glad that justice appears to be moving swiftly in George Floyd’s case. The officers who participated have been terminated from the department, and the criminal process is well underway.
But this is little consolation to many Americans, including many black Americans who feel they have experienced unjust, unequal, interactions with law enforcement. Many have protested peacefully for change, in the finest tradition of our country—and in sharp contrast to the rioters and looters who have exploited this tragedy for their own purposes.
We must now seek to rebuild national unity from the wreckage of broken trust and broken glass on our streets. To do this, we’ll need to be guided by our nation’s noblest principles, while rejecting the anti-American suggestions of radicals who want a revolution.
Every American deserves to be treated equally by their government, as guaranteed by our Constitution and our country’s most fundamental principle—that “all men are created equal.” There is no greater bulwark to tyranny and injustice than that old, simple proposition.
But we must reject efforts to scapegoat and demonize all police for the actions of a few. And we must reject radical proposals to dismantle and defund police departments, as some have suggested.
These proposals are offered in the spirit of revenge. They would lead only to more crime, more lives lost, and more sorrow. The communities that would be hit the hardest by the disappearance of police would be the most disadvantaged.
When police are understaffed and under-trained, there is greater risk of mistakes and misconduct—not to mention higher rates of crime. By contrast, a well-staffed, well-trained, and well-respected force is a blessing to its community—and a scourge to criminals who threaten it.
Defunding the police would be deadly. It isn’t a solution but an insult to good officers, and a new threat to law-abiding citizens.
Americans are not blind to injustice. We all understand the hard work that’s needed to repair trust in this country. But defunding the police is not the answer.
We need the rule of law—and equal justice under law. We need them both.
I urge my colleagues to join with us in passing this resolution—which calls for justice for George Floyd and other victims of excessive use of force, while also honoring the law-enforcement officers who keep us safe.