Thank you for that kind introduction.
Congressman Kolbe, Mayor Walkup, Chief Miranda, officers and families, ladies and gentlemen:
I’m very honored to be here on behalf of the Attorney General to dedicate this beautiful memorial.
It’s humbling to take part in dedicating a memorial to law enforcement officers who have given their lives while protecting the public – all of us – from crime and violence.
The Attorney General, the entire Department of Justice, and I are deeply grateful that men such as these – like many of you – have answered the call to public service and are willing to do their jobs every day at great risk.
For me and many others who are here tonight, this gratitude and this understanding of sacrifice are very personal. We are proud of our family members and friends who serve in uniform. The first funeral I ever attended as a little girl in Iowa was of a family friend and local police officer – John Van Haaften – who was shot and killed while attempting to make an arrest. I vividly remember the packed church, the sea of blue, green, and brown uniforms, and the intense sense of admiration and loss.
Today we honor seven brave Tucson police officers who have given their lives in the line of duty.
The families of some of these officers are with us today. We are all in your debt – for supporting your loved ones in their pursuit of public service and for the sacrifice you have made.
I am reminded of one of the inscriptions on the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.: “It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived.”
At the Department of Justice, we know that officers such as these seven men – like the other officers assembled in this audience – make it possible for all of us to live our lives the way we do.
Federal law enforcement performs only a small part of keeping America safe. The vast majority of that work is done by local police departments such as this one, by county sheriffs, and by state police. You are on the front lines in the fight against violent crime, against gangs, against domestic violence and exploitation of children, against drugs such as methamphetamine that can destroy lives, families, and communities, and against terrorism.
The people of Tucson and of Arizona rely primarily on you, and we at the Department of Justice could not do our jobs without your good work and cooperation. The agencies of the Department of Justice – the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, and the US Marshals – work closely with local agencies across and the country and right here in Tucson.
For example, our United States Attorney in Arizona, Paul Charlton, has told me how instrumental the Tucson Police Department has been in the Violent Crime Impact Team, or VCIT, as we call it, that the ATF sponsors in Tucson. Violent Crime Impact Teams are federal-state-local partnerships that work together to target the worst violent offenders and take them off the streets.
The participation of this police department has been essential to the successes that VCIT has achieved in the Tucson area. Along with the Pima County Attorney’s Office, the US Attorney’s Office, the ATF, and other law enforcement partners, you have helped bring about hundreds of arrests and seizures of contraband that make your streets safer.
Similarly, you have been a valuable partner in Project Safe Neighborhood, another program based on federal-state-local partnerships around the country that works to reduce gun crime. Just last month, Chief Miranda and Assistant Chief Robinson participated in the roll-out of the latest PSN media campaign here in Tucson. The work of Lieutenant Ron Stiso and his section, collaborating with ATF to investigate firearms offenses, has been invaluable. I have been told that this department has been very effective in getting out the word on Project Safe Neighborhood and that this has had a positive impact in deterring gun crimes in your community.
Just as important as these specific initiatives are the dedication and professionalism with which you do your jobs day-in and day-out. Your assistance in many individual cases – big and small – has enabled the U.S. Attorney’s office to bring drug traffickers and other criminals to justice. And of course multi-jurisdictional cooperation runs both ways. I understand that the DEA participates in the local Counter Narcotics Alliance, and we are proud to be involved in that important project.
Reducing gun crimes and other violent crime and combating drugs are among the Attorney General’s top priorities, and we are very thankful for your partnership in these projects.
Local and state police agencies have answered the Attorney General’s request for collaboration in combating other crimes as well. One important example is Project Safe Childhood, which is the Department of Justice’s concerted effort to fight the increasing and devastating problem of the sexual abuse and exploitation of children through the Internet.
State and local agencies such as yours have always been at the forefront in protecting our children from abuse. Arizona has a very effective Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which has served as a model for how local and federal agencies can work together to ensure that everything possible is done to bring abusers to justice and to prevent other children from being victimized. The Department of Justice looks forward to continuing to work with police agencies in Arizona and around the country on this important mission.
The American people also rely heavily on you in the war on terrorism. Although international terrorism may seem a federal problem, and it is in fact the first priority of the Department of Justice, police departments such as yours are critical partners in addressing this continuing threat. Moreover, you are the first responders. We remember all too well the images of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. We remember and honor the brave police officers and fire fighters who rushed into those buildings on rescue missions, never to return.
The memorial we are about to unveil honors the memory of seven other brave officers:
William Katzenstein and
The Department of Justice is so pleased to have had a role in making this memorial a reality.
The Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance chose this project as one of only 17 nationwide to receive a grant under the Law Enforcement Tribute Act. You should be proud to have received the largest of any of the grants awarded.
This memorial is the product of tireless efforts by people throughout the Tucson community:
The police department personnel who worked so hard on the planning and the grant application; the Tucson Pima Arts Council; local artist, Judith Stewart, who designed this beautiful sculpture; University of Arizona student, Jennifer Jones, who created the landscape design; and the many companies, local agencies and associations, and individuals who donated their time, money, and skill to complete the project.
This coming together of groups and individuals around a common goal is evidence of the public’s high regard for this police department and is as fitting a tribute as any to those who have fallen.
Thank you for the privilege of being with you today, and may God bless you all.