Late on a December night last year, Sergeant Ben Bertram died tragically in a car crash while on duty in a high-speed chase. Our Charlestown community, those who knew Sgt. Bertram, and, most importantly, his family lost a friend, a son, and a brother in blue.
Having served as a member of the Charlestown Police Department for nearly a decade, Sergeant Ben Bertram dedicated his life to serving and protecting his neighbors. Every day, police officers across the country put on their uniform, say goodbye to their families, and spend their days looking fear in the face to keep us safe. They are the thin blue line between us and danger.
This week is National Police Week, a time to put police officers’ service in the national spotlight and pause to remember the lives of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Too often, we pass by our school resource officers or law enforcement rushing to a scene without a second thought. Not this week. This week, let’s all remember to thank our officers for their service.
From roundtables to one-on-one meetings to tours of county jails, I have invested much time meeting with our law enforcement across our District. Just last month, I met with the Bedford Police Department, Mitchell Police Department, Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, and the Lawrence County Police Department to discuss which issues are at the forefront of our communities.
During one of these meeting last Congress, Floyd County Sheriff Frank Loop shared his frustrations about how current federal law prohibits local law enforcement officers from carrying their agency-issued fire-arms onto low-level secure civilian federal property (think VA or Social Security offices). Sheriff Loop shared that this law made his officers vulnerable and unable to act and respond when necessary. Even more, since these brave men and women are the very ones called to respond to an incident, the law creates a double standard: you can come here armed when we need you, but not otherwise.
This week, during National Police Week, I reintroduced the POLICE Act in the House of Representatives to address this issue and send the clear signal that our men and women in blue are trusted everywhere. Our trust doesn’t stop at a federal building’s doorway.
144 police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2018. That’s 144 moms, dads, sons, and daughters who never returned home. This week, let us put faces and names to those statistics. Let us recall their stories. Let us remember the commitment they made to protect us all. And this week, like every week, let us remember Sgt. Ben Bertram.
— Trey Hollingsworth represents Indiana District 9 in the U.S. House of Representatives.