Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor New York State Trooper Andrew Sperr. Each person who wears a badge walks a thin blue line between life and death. Their families wonder when their police officer reports for duty, if that person will return home.

On March 1, 2006, Trooper Sperr did not return. He was shot and killed in the line of duty during a blazing gun fight with bank robbers in Big Flats, New York. Just after noon, Andrew Sperr stopped to investigate a suspicious pickup truck on the side of the road. As he approached the vehicle, the robbery suspects opened the door and opened fire on him, striking him multiple times. At least one round struck him in the right side above his body armor.

He was a dedicated lawman, so Trooper Sperr was able to return fire, and he wounded both of the suspects, which eventually led to their arrest, even though he was mortally wounded himself. Andrew Sperr was 33 years of age. He was from Greece, New York, and he had been a member of the New York State police force for 10 years.

Though he had no kids of his own, he was greatly involved in lives of his 10 siblings and their kids, and was godfather to several of his nieces and nephews. He was known as AJ to close family and friends, and he was remembered as always being the center of all activity.

He spent his free time on his 80-acre farm in Steuben County, New York. He loved the outdoors and in his other free time he was a hunter and a wildlife photographer. As a young kid, Andrew Sperr had wanted to serve his community by becoming a peace officer.

In his life and his death, service was his mission. Friends family and co-workers remember him as a compassionate public servant who generally cared about the people he came in contact with on a daily basis, no matter who they were. He had recently won the outstanding trooper award for the second year in a row.

When terrorists struck the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, Andrew Sperr was there. He volunteered to go and help the people of New York, as well as the citizens of the United States, by providing law enforcement in the aftermath of that attack on America.

Trooper Sperr also traveled to Louisiana this past fall in Hurricane Katrina and helped those folks in that area, neighbors.

Madam Speaker, as a former judge in Texas, I have had the opportunity to speak several times in New York and to the troopers at the New York State Police Academy in Albany, New York. After we got through the language barrier, I found these right-thinking Americans to be passionate about protecting the citizens of New York State and bringing outlaws to justice.

Trooper Andrew Sperr was proud to be a member of this group of law officers. Trooper Andrew Sperr died doing what he wanted to do, protecting, serving and defending the people. As thousands of his fellow State troopers, law enforcement personnel, friends and family, mourn his loss, our prayers go out to his family for allowing his life to be sacrificed for the rest of us.

Andrew J. Sperr was a dedicated officer and a compassionate friend to all. He served with distinction and honor, and he will be missed. America and Americans were better because of the life of Andrew Sperr. He wore the badge and proudly took the oath to protect and serve.

Madam Speaker, peace officers are the last strand of wire in the fence between safety and anarchy. They are all that stands between the people and the barbarians. Trooper Andrew Sperr died protecting the rest of us from those outlaws.

So God bless those that wear the badge of the American peace officer. That's just the way it is.