Mayor McDermott spoke at the Annual Hammond Police Memorial on May 24, 2017.
Below is a transcript of that speech:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge our elected officials…… I would like to welcome you all today to this most solemn occasion—remembering Hammond police officers and officers all across the nation who gave their lives in the performance of their duties.
What a wonderful world we could live in, if only we could stop the bad things from happening. Well, that is what these men and women accomplish daily. They put their uniform and badge on and then walk the shadows of the unknown. Uncertain if they are going to be greeted with gratitude for saving the day or to be criticized for doing their job. There is no joy in arresting a husband/father for domestic altercations in the home, or taking a mother away from her children for neglect/physical abuse and there is no greater pain than seeing our young dying in our streets over gang disputes or incarcerated in our jails. That is the thankless job of the men and women of the Hammond Police Department. These officers don’t do their jobs for praise, glory or to get rich. They do it because it is their duty, entrusted to them when they took the sacred oath to protect and serve the citizens of this great city.
You see it on television on a daily basis, people disrespecting the police or protesting their handling of a given situation but, if these same people are being carjacked, burglarized, or assaulted, the first people they call are the police. It’s easy for us to play Monday morning quarterback. But imagine someone waving a gun in your face threatening to shoot you. You don’t get the luxury of a day or two to assess the situation. You have to make a split second decision or risk the chance of getting injured or worse dying. That’s what police officers across the country have to contend with daily—split second decisions.
The 115th Congress passed House Resolution 115 or the “Thin Blue Line Act” on Thursday, May 18, 2017. This bill amends the federal criminal code to expand the list of statutory aggravating factors in death penalty determinations to also include killing or targeting a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other first responder. Congratulations to Congress…they did something right for a change. Unfortunately my own political party, the Democratic Party, including our own Congressman, Pete Visclosky, voted as a group against the “Thin Blue Line Act”. Why? What were they thinking?
In this day and age, why wouldn’t Congressman Pete Visclosky and his fellow Democratic House members want to show America’s first responders that the U.S. Congress stands with them? Admires them? Supports them?
Instead almost every Democratic House member voted against this act. To me, and many of my friends in law enforcement, that vote by the Democrats in the U.S. House makes it look like they don’t appreciate the value of the lives of America’s first responders, and that makes me sad as a member of the democratic party, and it pisses me off as a democratic Mayor. In my opinion, the vote should have been 435 to 0 in favor of the Thin Blue Line Act.
In Hammond, the last two times we had an officer involved shooting was when the perpetrator was going after EMS personnel on an ambulance crew. The Thin Blue Line Act, approved by the House Republican majority and opposed by almost every Democratic Congressman, expands the definition of a first responder to cover EMS personnel along with police and fire personnel. As a fellow democrat, I am sorely disappointed that my party did not show support to America’s police and firefighters.
I have the utmost respect for our police officers. I would not want to be in their shoes on any given day. I am proud to say the City of Hammond has some of the best officers in the country and I thank you for your service.
We are here on this solemn occasion not to mourn our fallen brother and sisters in blue, but to honor their memory and commitment to keep our community safe and the life they dedicated to the service of the citizens of Hammond. It has been said throughout our history, without sacrifice there can be no peace. These men and women honored here today, on this memorial, have made the ultimate sacrifice for the preservation of peace within our community. Although, these officers have ended their watch far too soon, their legacies and dedication to service will live on forever in our hearts. These brave men and women will forever live as examples of the best our country has to offer. It is my sincere hope that we can find peace and comfort in knowing that they died doing what they loved.