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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Fall has been a busy season for the COPS Office, one in which we supported two important events. The first was a ceremony held on September 18th, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio, and Justice Department leadership honored the recipients of the Second Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing.
The awards program, which is administered by the COPS Office, recognizes excellence in three main categories: innovative policing strategies, criminal investigation, and field work. This year, 25 law enforcement officers and deputies from 12 jurisdictions were honored for their efforts in these areas, each demonstrating exceptional commitment and creativity in solving or preventing public safety problems while building trust within their communities.
Reading through the descriptions of the award winners’ accomplishments, I was impressed by their exemplary work ethic, resourcefulness, compassion, and unhesitating willingness to sacrifice their personal time as well as their safety for the benefit of their communities. This was demonstrated in a wide range of initiatives, ranging from forging partnerships with neighborhood groups and park personnel to reduce violent crime in a troubled area of Los Angeles to outfitting teenagers with “drunk goggles” to impress upon them the dangers of drinking and driving.
I encourage anybody with an interest in public safety to read the descriptions of the honorees’ work and share them with others. In addition to the ideas they may spark and the lessons that can be learned, the narratives are inspiring. They remind us that police work is not just a job. It is a vocation in which law enforcement professionals are committed to supporting the safety and well-being of all members of their communities, not only by responding to crime but working with the public and other professionals to find the most effective ways to prevent it—now and in the future.
The process for selecting the awardees included a review of more than 450 nominations from all across America. As I read through each of the nominations I could not help but think of all the great work the men and women in law enforcement do every day. And, in most instances we do not hear or read about these incredible acts of bravery and sacrifice through the news media. We need to change the negative narrative about our law enforcement officers and deputies by communicating more stories of their everyday heroism and dedication to the public they so tirelessly serve.
On behalf of the COPS Office, I congratulate the Attorney General’s awardees, all of whom have displayed outstanding dedication and great thoughtfulness in serving their communities. I also want to recognize the excellence and commitment of the many “unsung heroes” who serve in our nation’s 18,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement departments. We owe our appreciation and gratitude to all.
I had the pleasure of meeting many representatives from these local agencies, as well as criminal justice stakeholders across the country, at another highlight of the fall season: the 125th Annual IACP Meeting, which was held in Florida October 6–9. Through COPS Office participation in forums and workshops, as well as personal interactions with attendees from all over the world, I heard about today’s law enforcement concerns, not only for public safety, but for the safety and wellness of the officers themselves.
I was also pleased to receive positive feedback about a number of COPS Office programs, especially Blue Alert, the new Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance Center (known as CRI-TAC), and our School Violence Prevention Program. These conversations will greatly assist us as we work to meet the varied needs of all of our nation’s law enforcement agencies and support the Attorney General’s goals, especially those of reducing violent crime and combatting the opioid epidemic.
At each meeting, I was also adamant in my challenge to all of law enforcement to join the Attorney General and others in the Department of Justice in changing the narrative about law enforcement. This will not be achieved quickly, nor without some pushback from those who recklessly criticize the efforts of the men and women who protect our public safety. However, with determination and dedication we can be successful in increasing national awareness of the critical services they provide every day. The COPS Office will be assisting the Attorney General and law enforcement in this gallant mission and we look forward to working with each of you.
– Director Keith
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