WASHINGTON, May 17 -
Mr. Speaker, one muggy summer night in July 2011 in Beaumont, Texas, John Wesley Nero got into an argument with his mother and his grandmother. Being the worthless man that he was, he beat them both up and then fled in the darkness of the night. Local police officers confronted the outlaw, but he fled away in his truck and led the officers on a high-speed chase down a dark country road. Meanwhile, down that road, Officer Bryan Hebert intentionally positioned his vehicle ahead of the chase and was attempting to retrieve road spikes out of the trunk to stop Nero and his vehicle. But when Nero saw Hebert's patrol car, he purposely crashed into the vehicle, barreling over Officer Hebert and killing him. Officer Bryan Hebert was 36 years of age and was a 10-year veteran of the Beaumont, Texas, Police Department.
On an early Sunday morning last May, one of Houston's finest, Officer Kevin Will, was investigating a hit-and-run accident in Houston. Suddenly, a different vehicle was speeding by and blazed past the police barriers at the accident where Officer Will was investigating. Immediately, before being struck, Officer Will yelled at a witness to jump out of the way, thus saving that citizen's life just before the officer's life was stolen from him. Officer Will was 38 years of age and had been with the Houston Police Department for only 2 years. He left behind a pregnant wife and two stepchildren.
The driver of that speeding vehicle ignored all the safety lights of police cruisers at that accident scene. He was drunk, charged with intoxication, manslaughter of a police officer, evading arrest, and possession of cocaine. The accused killer also had been in the United States illegally, having been deported once, but came back to commit crime.
Police officers dedicate their lives to protecting the rest of us from the anarchy of the lawless. Some of them, like Officer Hebert and Officer Will, never get to go back home to their families.
This week, during Police Week, we honor those law enforcement officers who have given their lives. We also honor their families. Thousands of peace officers and their families have traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to respect and remember the fallen. No matter if they're from New York City or Beaumont, Texas, they're all here for the same reason: to respect the memory of those amazing souls who have died in the line of duty somewhere across America's plains.
On May 17, 1792, New York City's Deputy Sheriff Isaac Smith became the first recorded peace officer to be killed in the line of duty. Since his death, nearly 21,000 peace officers have been killed somewhere in America. Although crime is on the decline in the United States, crimes against police officers are on the rise. There's been an alarming 75 percent increase in police officer deaths since 2008.
During my 20 years as a judge in Texas, I had the privilege of working alongside some of America's finest--the peace officers. Unfortunately, some of those peace officers that I had known were killed in the line of duty.
Peace officers often become victims of the crimes they seek to prevent. When a peace officer puts on a uniform in the morning, they represent everything that is good and right about our country. They're the last strand of wire in the fence between the law and the lawless. They protect us from those who lurk in the shadows of crime and create havoc in our society. Peace officers willingly fight the forces of anarchy and bring order to the rule of law. They do this, in some cases, with little or no appreciation from the citizens that they protect.
This yearly tribute here in Washington, D.C., provides each of us with an opportunity to honor fallen peace officers like Officer Bryan Hebert of the Beaumont, TX Police Department and Officer Kevin Will of the Houston Police Department and all the others who have given their lives in the name of keeping peace in America.
And that's just the way it is.