Sen. Cruz: Every One of Us Should Stand with Law Enforcement
Chairs hearing focusing on how the federal government undermines state and local law enforcement
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) chaired a hearing of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts titled “The War on Police: How the Federal Government Undermines State and Local Law Enforcement.” This hearing, consisting of two panels, highlighted the challenges facing police officers and how the federal government can impact law enforcement nationwide.
“The men and women of law enforcement risk their life each and every day. Police officers go into dangerous neighborhoods with criminals, and every day they’re taking a risk that their life may be lost protecting the community. If the police are intimidated, if they are scared, if they are not willing to do their jobs, we know the result. The result is the loss of life. The result is rising crime,” Sen. Cruz said in his opening statement."
“I believe every one of us, Republican and Democrat, should stand unequivocally with the brave men and women of law enforcement. I do not believe it is beneficial for this country to have a culture where the men and women of law enforcement feel under siege.”
“Welcome to everyone here. Welcome to the witnesses in the first panel, and welcome to those who have come to participate in this hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to look at the challenges facing the brave men and women of law enforcement. A great many of us have been growing more and more concerned at seeing police officers the subject of public vilification, seeing police officers being undermined, and hearing from police officers across this country that they are less and less able to do their jobs; that they feel their hands are tied; that they are scared if they engage in proactive policing in the community to keep the community safe that they risk being personally hung out to dry; that they risk seeing their careers, their livelihoods, destroyed; that they risk seeing their family held up for public condemnation. And sadly, the consequences of this are significant.
“The men and women of law enforcement risk their life each and every day. Police officers go into dangerous neighborhoods with criminals, and every day they’re taking a risk that their life may be lost protecting the community. If the police are intimidated, if they are scared, if they are not willing to do their jobs, we know the result. The result is the loss of life. The result is rising crime.
“You know, some recent headlines underscore the consequences of this. Just three days ago, The Washington Post reported that homicides have risen in several U.S. cities this year. This ‘dramatic surge in killings’ has been confirmed as well by media outlets as diverse as USA Today, National Review, The Economist, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.
“Indeed, here in the nation’s capital, according to The Washington Post, there have been 143 homicides so far this year. That is 53 more homicides than at the same point last year. Nearby, Baltimore has suffered even worse. Baltimore has now suffered over 300 homicides this year. This gruesome milestone, The Washington Post lamented, resembles the violence Baltimore experienced decades ago. Similar homicide statistics can be found in Milwaukee, in St. Louis, in New Orleans, in Chicago, in cities across the country. And of great deal of concern to law enforcement, the number of law enforcement officers killed through acts of violence has been on a precipitous upswing, according to The Hill in an article published this past May. Specifically, the officers killed in 2014 was nearly double those killed in 2013.
“James Comey, the current Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has been vocal about his concerns over crime trends. Director Comey has expressed the view that excessive, unjust scrutiny of state and local law enforcement may be contributing to this trend.
“Now everyone in here agrees that we should enforce the law, and we should vigorously enforce America’s civil rights laws. In any government organization, there can be bad actors. In any large group of people, there can be individuals who choose to violate the law. And anyone who chooses to violate the law should be held accountable.
“But in my view it is deeply harmful, not only for the men and women of law enforcement, but for the safety of the American people, for the federal government to treat police officers as the enemy, for the president or the attorney general to be holding up police officers for vilification. I will say I was particularly disappointed last year when President Obama nominated an individual to serve as the head of the Civil Rights Division who had previously represented an admitted cop killer, and had not just represented him, but had represented him pro bono, for free, and had lionized and celebrated this cop killer.
“Now, every individual in a criminal proceeding is entitled to representation, but those for whom you go out of the way to volunteer your time for free and those who you lionize and celebrate reveal a great deal about your beliefs and where you stand. I would note I was proud to stand with others, including Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, in helping lead the fight against confirming that nominee to the Justice Department. And it is worth noting that even with a Democratic Senate, even under the leadership of then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Senate refused to confirm that nominee as a number of Democrats joined the Republicans in saying, ‘We should not have a senior official in the Justice Department be an individual who has chosen to celebrate and lionize a murderer who has murdered police officers.’
“It was a few months ago that I attended the funeral in my hometown of Houston for Deputy Goforth. Deputy Goforth was shot at a gas station in an act of violence that I believe was a manifestation of the growing antipathy directed at law enforcement. I will note that funeral service was an incredible and powerful funeral service. It was held at Second Baptist Church in Houston. Dr. Ed Young provided the eulogy. It was an incredible sight to sit in the sanctuary and to see thousands upon thousands of police officers filling that sanctuary. Everywhere you could see were men and women dressed in blue, in their dress uniforms there to honor that fallen officer. Dr. Young in the eulogy powerfully observed that in the Old Testament the Levites, the priests, wore blue. And he drew from the Lord’s Prayer to describe the core mission of police, and indeed in particular, one phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Deliver us from evil,’ which Dr. Young rightly observed if you were to sum up the mission statement of a police officer it would be difficult to do so more effectively or more succinctly than ‘Deliver us from evil.’
“I believe every one of us, Republican and Democrat, should stand unequivocally with the brave men and women of law enforcement. I do not believe it is beneficial for this country to have a culture where the men and women of law enforcement feel under siege.
“I will note there was a seminal moment in this country when the members of the NYPD stood and turned their back on Mayor de Blasio. That was a moment I believe penetrated at the heart of millions of Americans. What on earth are we doing when senior government officials are treating the police officers as the bad guys?
“This hearing is to discuss the challenges facing police officers, the degree to which they have been vilified publicly, and the consequences we are facing in terms of innocent men and women facing crime, facing murder, lives that have been lost because the police have been unable to do their job. And I appreciate everyone for being here for this hearing.”
“You know, I will say something Mr. Walters said a minute ago I think is powerfully correct, as I travel both the state of Texas and the country, I am stopped by police officers almost on a daily basis who express to me one after the other that they feel they are under assault. I cannot tell you the frequency with which individual officers and cities all over the country say ‘Thank you for standing up for me.’ That sentiment is being felt, and it is being felt powerfully.
“There has been some suggestion that there has not been a vilification of law enforcement, and I think that suggestion is counter to the facts and counter to the evidence. Indeed, you go back to 2009, President Obama was newly elected, and you had an incident with a Harvard professor. And President Obama, who I might note was not there in Cambridge, Massachusetts, did not know what the facts were, but even not knowing what the facts were, the President saw fit to say, ‘The Cambridge police acted stupidly.’ I, for one, don’t think the President of the United States ought to be insulting police officers for ‘acting stupidly,’ when the President by his own admission doesn’t know the facts of what occurred. That started to set the stage for beginning with the assumption police officers are guilty until proven innocent.
“President Obama in 2014 at the United Nations stood in front of the world and held up law enforcement in a negative way. He said, ‘I realize that America’s critics will be quick to point out that at times we, too, have failed to live up by our ideals, that America has plenty of problems within its own borders.’ This President has made a pattern of describing what he thinks are America’s problems and doing it in front of foreign nations. He continued, ‘This is true. In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know that the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri, where a young man was killed and a community was divided.’ President Obama in front of the United Nations comparing the police officers to terrorists in the Middle East, and let’s be clear he is giving his opinion on that: ‘A young man was killed.’ ‘We have failed to live up to our ideals.’ Those are President Obama’s words. ‘This is true…we have failed to live up to our ideals…this is true.’ He is rendering judgment and verdict. I would note the grand jury in Ferguson disagreed with President Obama -- the actual people our Justice Department charges with reviewing the evidence, something that doesn’t seem to trouble President Obama when he’s opining law enforcement must be in the wrong. The grand jury that reviewed the evidence concluded to the contrary, but President Obama goes in front of the United Nations and lambastes police officers. You don’t think that message is heard by police officers throughout the country?
“In 2015, President Obama said, ‘There are some police who aren’t doing the right thing.’ Rather than close ranks, he said, some police chiefs have recognized ‘they’ve got to get their arms around the problem.’ But President Obama continued, ‘We can’t just leave this to the police.’ It’s important to understand he doesn’t think the police can govern themselves. Instead, President Obama is saying, ‘I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching. I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching. But I think as a country we have to do some soul searching. This is not new. This has been going on for decades.’ -- The President standing as judge and jury convicting police officers.
“In response to his own FBI Director Mr. Comey, President Obama speaking right after Mr. Comey stands up and says, ‘We do have to stick with the facts. What we can’t do is cherry-pick or use anecdotal evidence to drive policy or feed political agendas.’ How about what we can’t do is have the President of the United States impugning the integrity? Is he suggesting the Director of the FBI is cherry-picking data? It’s not an implicit suggestion. It is an explicit suggestion.
“In summer of 2014, the Department of Justice targeting the Seattle Police Department said in writing that the officers were engaged in ‘discriminatory practices subconsciously.’ I’m very pleased to know that the U.S. Department of Justice have now become psychiatrists, have now become mystics delving into the subconscious. How about the Department of Justice enforce the laws, instead of worrying about the deep subconscious of police officers, which the President has already told us apparently they’re ‘acting stupidly’ anyway.
“We’ve talked about the President nominating for a senior Department of Justice position a lawyer who not only voluntarily and for free represented an admitted cop killer, but lionized him, held him out as a cause celeb. But you know, that’s not the only cop killer that the Administration has turned a blind eye to.
“We should all remember Joanne Chesimard. Who is Joanne Chesimard? Joanne Chesimard is on the FBI most-wanted list. She is wanted for escaping from prison in Clinton, New Jersey while serving a life sentence for murder. On May 2, 1973, Chesimard, who was part of the revolutionary extremist organization known as the Black Liberation Army, and two accomplices were stopped for a motor vehicle violation on the New Jersey Turnpike by two troopers with the New Jersey State Police. At the time, Ms. Chesimard was wanted for her involvement in several felonies including bank robbery. Chesimard and her accomplices opened fire on the troopers. One trooper was wounded and another was shot and killed execution-style at point blank range. Chesimard fled the scene but was subsequently apprehended. One of her accomplices was killed in the shootout, and the other was also apprehended and remains in jail. In 1977, Chesimard was found guilty of first-degree murder, assault and battery of a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to kill, illegal possession of a weapon, and armed robbery. She was sentenced to life in prison. On November 2, 1979, Chesimard escaped from prison and lived underground before being located in Cuba in 1984. She is still living in Cuba. We were all given the pleasing situation of seeing President Obama and John Kerry and the Obama Administration embracing apparently our newfound friends, Raul Castro and Fidel Castro, cruel Communist dictators.
“You know, in the whole course of opening this rapprochement with Cuba, in the whole course of opening an American Embassy in Cuba, in the whole course of opening a Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., in the whole course of the State Department silencing Cuban dissidents in Washington, D.C., did the Obama Administration ever once say of their new Communist buddies, ‘How about you hand over the cop killer living in Cuba? If you’re going to be part of this community of nations, if were going to embrace Cuba in a way that will make every leftist faculty lounge in America cheer, how about as the tiny price of that, you hand over a cop killer instead of shielding someone who murdered a New Jersey State Trooper in cold-blood execution-style. Does anyone in their right mind think that the Obama Administration ever even once mentioned that? You want to know why the cops feel thrown overboard? Because nobody would suggest they would even think to say, ‘Hand over the cop killer.’
“You know, it’s not an accident that at Deputy Goforth’s funeral, President Obama was nowhere to be found. It’s not an accident that at funeral after funeral of police officers, who have been murdered, targeted, singled out for defending their communities that President Obama is nowhere to be found. There is a consequence when you vilify, when you demonize, when you hold out for contempt the good men and women who protect our communities. Of course, there can be individuals who violate the law, and we have a justice system – if there is an individual in law enforcement who violate the law, we have a justice system to handle that. But this President, this Department of Justice has not approached it saying, ‘Let’s enforce the law.’ They have started with the assumption that law enforcement is, as they said to the Seattle Police Department, ‘subconsciously discriminating – they’re guilty.’ And we’ve seen the consequences. We’ve seen crime rising. We’ve seen homicides rising. We’ve seen black lives being lost -- over and over and over again being murdered. It is wrong. And I believe it should end.”