by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senate Judiciary Committee
Hearing on “Law
Enforcement Officer Safety: Protecting Those Who Serve and Protect”
Tuesday, July 26,
you, Chairman Durbin, for holding this important hearing. I requested the
hearing, and I appreciate it.
on police officers are rising across the country. We see news stories on a
regular basis about ambush attacks and murders of law enforcement in Los
Angeles, Philadelphia and elsewhere. Even my home state of Iowa has not escaped
73 officers were intentionally killed last year, the highest number since the
9/11 attacks. That’s a 59 percent increase from the previous year. 133 officers
were shot in ambush style attacks, an increase of 123 percent over the previous
most recent data shows that violent crime is
across the country, but violence against police officers is up even higher.
This is a unique and critical problem.
like to recognize one of my guests here today. Officer Zach Andersen
was a deputy in
Grundy County last year when Sergeant Jim Smith of the Iowa State Patrol was
murdered in an ambush attack. He was with Sergeant Smith when the murder
happened. I previously spoke
in honor of
Sergeant Smith’s memory.
breaks my heart to hear stories like this come out of Iowa, but there’re sadly
many such stories around the country.
death of an officer killed in the line of duty is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for
the officer who sacrificed his or her life. It’s a tragedy for the family and
friends left behind. It’s a tragedy for the community that lost a public
servant. And it’s a tragedy for all of us who rely on these brave men and women
to keep us safe.
another disturbing trend that goes hand in hand with the rise in attacks on
police. We see more criminals resisting or fleeing arrest, more disrespect and
demonizing of law enforcement and a general atmosphere of hostility towards the
people in uniform who put their lives on the line to protect us.
is a growing crisis, and there’s much that Congress needs to do to help address
of the challenges is a lack of data. While the government collects basic data
on attacks against police that result in serious injury or death, we don’t have
much data on the contributing factors. We also don’t have good data on attacks
against police that don’t result in death and serious injury.
worked with police groups including Major County Sheriffs of America and the
National Association of Police Organizations to identify gaps in reporting.
Senators Luján, Tillis, Hassan, and Cassidy are original cosponsors of this
are several bills
by members of this Committee that would make it a federal crime to attack law
enforcement, and that would enhance penalties for doing so. Senators Cornyn,
Tillis and Cotton have sponsored these bills.
main cause of this violence against police is the demonization and disrespect
shown to the profession of law enforcement throughout the country. When you
allow hatred of a group to spread, people find it easy to justify violent
attacks against them.
Smith, the wife of the late Sergeant Smith, sent us a letter
that I’d like to
introduce into the record. She tells us about what a wonderful and
self-sacrificing man he was, but also that over the past six to eight years, he
told her that officers have been treated with more hostility.
writes that during the riots, “My husband stood with his tactical team
protecting the state capital in Iowa and had frozen water bottles and rocks
thrown at them. Protesters spit and insulted them for hours at a time.”
held a roundtable
with Iowa law
enforcement a couple of months ago, and one theme that I heard
constantly is officer recruitment
and retention. There aren’t enough police officers to go around. There are not enough young
joining the profession. Most new hires they’re seeing come from other law
question that comes up is how we can ask young people to join a profession if
we do not take care of them. How can we ask them to protect us if we don’t
protect them? And if we don’t have enough officers, we can only expect to see
other violent crimes get worse and worse.
Smith’s message to us here today is this, “You can allow culture’s diminishing
respect and police’s lack of protection to continue down this dark path,
permitting more families to face the same shattered fate as ours… or you can do
something about it. You can listen to the problems we have, develop a plan to
fix them, and save the lives of our officers.”
agree with her, and I hope this hearing will help to examine all the aspects of
this crisis for police and how we can help protect them.
I close, I would also like to introduce a letter from the National Association
of Police Organizations, and also a statement from the Fraternal Order of
Police, which states that anti-police rhetoric – amplified by social media
platforms – leads to brazen acts of violence against law enforcement.
you to our witnesses for appearing today. We look forward to hearing from you.