Remarks as Delivered
Thank you, Director Clements, for your tremendous leadership and a huge thanks to the COPS Office staff for all their work on this awards program and today’s ceremony. It is my honor to welcome our honorees, your families and all our distinguished guests to this ceremony and to the Justice Department.
Everyday law enforcement officers put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. The public expects this and too often takes it for granted. Today’s award ceremony allows us to take a moment to show appreciation for this immense public service. The Justice Department is proud to celebrate the individuals being recognized today. I have read your stories and know that you epitomize community policing at its best.
Community policing advances community safety by building trust, respect, and collaboration between police and communities. It’s a model of policing that respects civil rights and engages the community as a full partner in creating safer communities for police and residents alike.
The Justice Department knows that as we uplift policing, we must also invest in officer wellness programs. We have to support effective strategies for recruitment and retention, and we must build community-police trust.
Today’s awardees demonstrate problem-solving skills, a willingness to find and engage in innovative community-policing strategies, and above all, a commitment to the communities and people you serve. We received nominations not only from proud supervisors, but also from professional peers and others impacted by your work.
As Director Clements noted, we received hundreds of nominations from across the country, and we went through several stages of review to get to today’s honorees.
We started with a panel consisting of representatives from 10 leading law enforcement associations, some of whom are represented today in this room:
- International Association of Chiefs of Police
- Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies
- Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)
- Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association
- Major Cities Chiefs Association
- Major County Sheriffs of America
- National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives
- National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
- National Sheriffs Association; and
- Police Executive Research Forum
Following that, there was a federal review panel consisting of executives from several Department of Justice components. And then finally, selection and approval by the Attorney General himself.
I hope that today’s honorees know just how much everyone here appreciates and deeply values your contributions to building trust and strengthening police-community relationships. It’s the backbone of safe and healthy communities.
And now, it is my great honor to introduce the Attorney General of the United States, Merrick Garland. I will not attempt to sum up the Attorney General’s entire distinguished career. We don’t want to take up two hours of time on that. But as many of you know, prior to his nomination by President Biden and confirmation as Attorney General in March of 2021, the Attorney General was Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. And before his time on the bench, he spent much of his career here, in the Justice Department, serving under five different Attorneys General in a variety roles, including as a prosecutor overseeing the Oklahoma City bombing, Unabomber and Montana Freemen cases.
As Attorney General, he has set out three coequal priorities for each of us at the Justice Department: upholding the rule of law, keeping this country safe and protecting civil rights. And in carrying out each of these priorities, in his daily work and during visits at U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and with our state and local law enforcement partners across the country, I have seen firsthand the Attorney General’s immense partnership and championing of law enforcement and community policing. And I am honored every day to serve with him.
And so, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to introduce the Attorney General.