In October 1962, Congress enacted a joint resolution declaring May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The resolution also created National Police Week as an annual tribute to law enforcement service and sacrifice.
As the United States attorney for the District of Wyoming and attorney general for the State of Wyoming, we are pleased to partner with the numerous federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies who serve our state, and we want to express our enduring gratitude to these men and women who are hard at work every day in our communities.
As we consider the service and sacrifice of these officers, it restores our sense of pride in the institutions and ideals they represent. They are standing up for the rule of law every day. Without their service, we risk losing something that is at the very heart of who we are as a nation and as a people – the idea of liberty and justice for all.
When we talk about justice and the rule of law, we are describing basic, but very important, concepts – the idea that government has an obligation to consistently observe and fairly enforce neutral principles, rather than the arbitrary whims of a particular person or group. This concept is vital to the protection of our individual rights and freedoms.
We learn from history that for any nation to prosper, it must have and uphold laws that protect individual freedoms, shield citizens from government overreach, allow businesses to thrive and invest with confidence, provide assurance that property rights will be protected, keep people safe from dangerous criminals, and allow us to resolve differences peacefully without resorting to violence.
The notion of a limited government, evenly applying neutral and just laws to protect individual rights, is one of the founding ideas that has made and continues to make our nation great.
However, if we are not careful, we can begin to take these freedoms for granted. We do not have to look far to know that the rule of law is almost always under attack. There are countries around the world where corruption, crime and lawlessness are the norm, rather than the exception.
Corruption is like a disease that undermines the rule of law. It stifles innovation, creates inefficiency, and causes distrust between people and their government. It is a sure path to economic and social ruin, and the breeding ground for escalating violence.
The rule of law, and the values it embodies, must be protected and upheld. This is where law enforcement plays such an indispensable role. Our police officers, deputies, agents, troopers, rangers, game wardens and corrections officers are on the front lines, defending and preserving the rule of law every day. Their bravery and dedication to this important role is admirable.
This week, in particular, we take time to thank them for their commitment to service and pray for their safety. They are the thin blue line that stands between law-abiding people and criminals – between safety and lawlessness. Their courage guards our families, secures our neighborhoods and protects our communities.
We hope you will join us in thanking and honoring these real-life, everyday heroes. Whenever you have the opportunity, let these brave men and women know we stand behind them, we appreciate what they do, and we will not take them for granted.