Remarks as prepared for delivery
Thank you, Jonathan. I appreciate your remarks and your unrelenting support of law enforcement.
It is an honor to join Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Mayor Muriel Bowser, and so many other distinguished guests. I want especially to thank one of my personal heroes, former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
The preamble to the Constitution explains that its primary goals include to “establish justice” and “insure domestic tranquility.” That is because the founders of our great nation understood that liberty requires law and order.
On Monday, President Donald Trump spoke eloquently about the brave law enforcement officers who maintain law and order. The President said that “America’s police officers have earned the everlasting gratitude of our nation. In moments of danger and despair, you are the reason we never lose hope — because there are men and women in uniform who face down evil and stand for all that’s good and just and decent and right. No matter what threat you face, you never give in. You never back down. You are people of tremendous courage and strength…. Nothing can break your spirit or bend your will…. We thank you. We salute you. We honor you. And we promise you: We will always have your back.”
Our Department of Justice implements the President’s policies with concrete actions to support law enforcement and reduce crime. We are already seeing results. Crime is falling. And confidence in the police is rising. That is no coincidence.
A recent survey found that more and more young people respect the police. Police officer used to be the number 10 dream job for children under 12. It moved up to number three last year.
Public confidence is justified, because police agencies today are more professional, more sophisticated, and more effective than ever.
I know from personal experience that American law enforcement officers are the finest in the world.
Select any officer at random, and the odds are that you will find someone who is honorable, reliable, principled and trustworthy.
But policing is not for the faint of heart. Officers never know what danger the next call may bring.
You work day shifts and night shifts, on weekends and holidays, in blizzards and rainstorms, during parades and riots. Your office never closes. And you always need to be at your best, especially when other people are at their worst.
There is a story about two police officers who make a traffic stop. One officer walks to the driver’s side while his partner stands behind the car. As the first officer approaches, the driver rolls down the window and leans out, shaking his fist. “Do you know who I am? Do you know who I am!?” The second officer hears the ruckus and calls out, “Is there a problem here?” And the first officer replies, “Yes, this gentleman doesn’t know who he is.”
Law enforcement officers can never forget who they are.
Our Department of Justice headquarters is filled with works of art that celebrate famous leaders who helped to establish the rule of law. They include heroes like Moses and George Washington. But one of my favorites is the mural of a police officer outside the Attorney General’s office.
Nobody knows who that officer is. It reminds us of the countless men and women who serve with honor but whose stories are seldom told.
In this museum, their stories will be told: stories about courage, stories about honor, stories about sacrifice. True stories that remind us never to take public safety for granted.
America’s law enforcement officers are on the front lines, standing watch every day and every night. You are the guardians who run toward danger, so the rest of us can get away safely.
So – on behalf of the President, the Attorney General, and all of my colleagues – I want to thank every law enforcement officer for what you do to keep us safe.
It is a great honor to work with you. And it is a great privilege to commit that we will always have your back.
Thank you very much.