Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that police officers and deputies deserve more respect and support from all Americans because of their personal sacrifices and service to their communities, work that is very often dangerous.
“Today, the American people have to focus on something else, which is the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officers,” Barr said during a Justice Department award ceremony that recognized distinguished service in policing.
“And they have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves. And if communities don’t give that support and respect they may find themselves without the police protection they need,” he added without going into details as to how communities might lose their police.
Barr also recognized challenges faced by law enforcement officers in the line of duty while praising police for their courage to overcome these issues.
“You put your life and well being on the line to protect your communities and your family spends anxious nights, night after night, so the rest of us can sleep in peace,” Barr said.
“That job has always been a difficult job, but it’s probably been no time where it is more difficult than today,” he added.
During the ceremony, which was attended by law enforcement personnel, he recognized the work of 19 officers and deputies from 12 jurisdictions across the nation, including one posthumously recognized for his work in leading a criminal investigation into the violent MS-13 gang.
In recent years, police recruiting in many major cities has taken a hit due in part, say analysts, to rising political opposition to departments.
In some cases, public disrespect for officers has gone viral on social media, leading in at least one recent case to tweets from President Trump.
Barr praised law enforcement for displaying a “special kind of bravery” in tackling various problems in society like drugs and violent crime, while saying that officers are fighting an “unrelenting, never-ending fight against criminal predators in our society.”
“While their battles won and lost each day, there is never a final resolution. A final victory is never consigned and yet … you continue to perform your duty protecting the community day in and day out. And that takes a very special kind of courage to wage this kind of fight. A special kind of committed, a special kind of sacrifice,” he added.