Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senate Judiciary Committee
May 15, 2018
is no more noble sacrifice than laying down your life in the service of others.
Every year, more than a million law enforcement officers work to keep our
country safe and to serve the needs of our communities. Our law enforcement
officers put their lives on the line as they fight crime. And each year law
enforcement officers die in the line of duty.
of these deaths occur while these officers are investigating crimes or
enforcing our laws. Some are even the result of targeted violence against police
officers. Other deaths involve tragic accidents, like Sheriff’s Deputy Julie
Bridges and Sergeant Joseph Ossman, two police officers who were killed in a
traffic accident while working to help their communities weather the onslaught
of Hurricane Irma.
Friday, I spoke at the Iowa Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony in Des Moines where
we honored six law enforcement officers from Iowa who lost their lives in the
line of duty. It was my honor to pay tribute to these brave Iowa heroes
alongside their families. Losing members of our law enforcement leave a hole in
families and communities that no one else can fill. But we can honor them, and
remember them, and work to support the efforts of other law enforcement
officers who carry on their mission. Officers who—despite the risk and the
rigors of their work—work tirelessly to protect and serve their communities.
in the memory of those who have fallen in the line of duty over the past year,
I was proud to introduce a resolution designating this week as National Police
Week. This resolution is cosponsored by 76 of my Senate colleagues.
am also working to clear the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program
Authorization Act through the Judiciary Committee so that the bill can be sent
to the floor for the consideration of the full Senate.
bill authorizes a nationwide partnership between federal, state, and local law
enforcement and prosecutors dedicated to the reduction of violent crime. This
partnership will use evidence-based and data-driven approaches to policing.
emphasizes initiatives designed to build trust and collaborate with community
leaders and organizations to address violent crime. A companion bill is working
its way through the House of Representatives. I look forward to voting to
addition, I've been a long-standing supporter of the Public Safety Officers'
Benefits Program, which provides death and education benefits to survivors of
fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders, and
disability benefits to officers catastrophically injured in the line of
introduced a bill to strengthen the PSOB and that bill was signed into law last
year. And we've worked hard on oversight efforts of the program to make sure
that beneficiaries' claims don't linger forever, but are paid out timely.
as I stand on the Senate floor, my thoughts turn to my home state of Iowa,
where on May 1, 2017, Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Burbridge went to work in
Pottawattamie County. He and fellow Deputy Pat Morgan were assigned to
transport a man to prison who had just been sentenced to 45 years for voluntary
manslaughter. On the way from the court to the prison, the prisoner assaulted
Deputy Burbridge with a homemade knife, grabbed one of the deputies’ guns, and
shot both deputies.
Morgan was seriously wounded in the attack. Deputy Burbridge was critically
injured, and died an hour later. The prisoner fled the scene, making it as far
as Nebraska. Other brave law enforcement officials tracked him down and brought
him to justice.
Burbridge was a family man who loved to work on cars and motorcycles, fish, and
tell jokes. He is survived by his wife Jessica, daughter Karley, son Kaleb, and
stepdaughter Kelsey Brant. We mourn his loss and remember his legacy of
sacrifice and service this week.
law enforcement officers in Iowa deal with many of the same problems facing the
rest of the country. They work every day to stop violent crime, and they are on
the front line of the fight against illegal drugs and the opiate addiction
help law enforcement officers in Iowa and in the rest of the country, we need
to optimize our justice system so it puts resources where they are needed most.
Law enforcement should target the worst offenders like violent criminals, major
drug traffickers, and criminal masterminds. And we should do more to help those
who have done their time reenter society in productive ways so they don’t slide
back into a life of crime.
bill I introduced this Congress, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act,
does just that. It improves fairness in sentencing while permitting law
enforcement to devote resources to tackling their top priorities. It also
increases incentives for criminals to cooperate with police and puts into place
tougher criminal penalties for fentanyl distribution, terrorism, and crimes of
addition, it provides for recidivism reduction programs to prepare inmates to
leave prison and live a productive, law-abiding life. Similar sentencing and
prison reform initiatives at the state level have closed prisons, reduced
crime, and increased public safety.
a final note, I’d like to take a moment to thank the Capitol Police who serve
right here in the halls of Congress. The President, the Vice President, cabinet
secretaries and thousands of visitors from around the country visit the Senate
every year. We senators come and go several times a day with our staff. It’s
easy to take our feelings of safety and security for granted in the Capitol
complex, but we are able to carry out our duties because of the continuous hard
work of these officers. So, thank you to the Capitol Police for your dedication
law enforcement officers deserve our respect, our support, and our admiration.
We honor all law enforcement officers this week, especially those who died in
the line of duty of the past year. We thank their families for their sacrifice,
and we will remember the values of public service, diligence, and bravery that
they stood for.