Publisher Bill Bowman is on vacation this week and is yielding this space to U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson in support of first responders.

02PubPenLast week, people all across the United States celebrated the 34th Annual National Night Out. Thousands of communities — big and small, urban and rural — held events so people could get to know their neighbors who serve as law enforcement officers.

I’ve always been a huge supporter of this event every year. It’s a great chance to encourage neighborhood camaraderie and help build relationships between law enforcement and the people they protect. The end goal is to make our neighborhoods safer for all. And, it’s always a lot of fun.

From the parades, cookouts and games, to the safety demonstrations and discussions, there is something for everyone to enjoy. But the best part is getting to say thank you to the men and women who serve as our first responders. These heroes work tirelessly to protect our freedoms, keep us safe, respond to emergencies, and represent our communities as loyal friends and incredible citizens. They are the ones we turn to in times of crisis. And they deserve our unyielding respect  and gratitude.

Every day, our law enforcement officers leave their homes and put themselves in harm’s way to protect us and enforce our laws. They make sure our roads are safe. They are always there to extend a helping hand for those in need. And they do all of this with courage, compassion and respect. We are so fortunate for their service.

Several weeks ago, I’m sure you saw the story about Asheville Police Department senior officers Carrie Lee and Joe Jones. These two officers made a splash — quite literally — when they respond
ed to a noise complaint and, after finding no laws being broken, joined in on a neighborhood slip-and-slide. Did you read the recent story about the time a Greensboro police officer prayed with a man on the side of the street? There are hundreds more stories just like this that show the compassion of our law enforcement community.

At a time when the police are too often targeted by unfair rhetoric and even violence, we must never take them for granted. They don’t do the job for the glory or the gratitude. But we should never stop trying to give it to them.

That’s one reason why I was proud to support the Honoring Hometown Heroes Act (H.R. 1892), which honors law enforcement by permitting the American flag to be flown at half-staff when a police officer, firefighter or first responder is killed in the line of duty.

I was also proud to support the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 419), which makes several changes to Department of Justice programs to supply death and disability benefits to public safety officers and their families. This critical legislation was signed into law in June. It’s an important measure to ensure a law enforcement officer’s family will be taken care of in the tragic event they are killed or disabled in the line of duty.

I am thankful for all of you who have answered the call to serve and protect, and I look forward to continuing my work alongside you to build a better future for all North Carolinians.

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