Today, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Bill Pascrell (NJ-9) kicked off Police Week by joining with Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco, Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera, and Charlie Schwartz, Co-Chairman of the Bergen County Police Benevolent Association Conference to say thank you to the brave law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect their communities.
The Congressmen announced their support for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Grant program from the Department of Justice and committed to returning those federal funds to local police programs. In 2014, the Paramus Police Department received a $600,000 grant through the COPS program which enabled them to hire five additional officers.
“For National Police Week, we are standing up to thank and honor the first responders who put their lives on the line to keep our families safe. Not only do these brave officers protect us from criminals, but they serve on the front lines of the war against terrorism, especially as we’ve seen the rise of homegrown and lone wolf terror. While some have put the COPS Grant program on the chopping block, I will stand arm in arm with Congressman Pascrell to make sure that doesn’t happen and that our police have the resources they need to protect our families and communities,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).
“As a former mayor, I know how important having well-staffed and properly equipped public safety departments is to protecting our communities. Our law enforcement officials work tirelessly to protect our families and business, and I am committed to ensuring that they have access to the resources they need to uphold the public’s safety. That is why I have long been a supporter of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring program, which provides invaluable resources and technical assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies in an effort to keep our communities safe. In tough economic times, this program provides grants to enable cash-strapped state and local governments to hire the public safety officers they need to protect their citizens,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-9).
Also in attendance were Assemblyman Tim Eustace, Assemblyman Joe Lagana, Freeholder Steve Tanelli, Freeholder Tom Sullivan, Freeholder Germaine Ortiz, Freeholder Mary Amoroso, Paramus Chief of Police Kenneth Ehrenberg, Paramus Councilman Joe Garcia, Paramus Councilwoman Holly Tedesco-Santos, and Paramus Councilman Pat Verile.
Below: Congressman Gottheimer (NJ-5) speaking in front of the Paramus Police Department for National Police Week.
Below: Excerpts of Congressman Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery.
Thank you, Mayor LaBarbiera for that kind introduction and for hosting us here in Paramus. I also want to thank Paramus Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg and my good friend and our County Executive, Jim Tedesco. Thank you Charlie Schwartz from the PBA for all he and his organization have done for law enforcement in New Jersey.
And, of course, my friend and colleague Bill Pascrell who has done so much for first responders and law enforcement here in New Jersey and across the nation. It’s an honor to serve along side you and work with you to support our first responders.
In 1962, President Kennedy declared May 15 “Peace Officers Memorial Day” and that week to be Police Week. So, we appropriately take time today — and this week — to say thank you to the men and women who keep our communities safe and especially to honor those who paid the ultimate price. As President Kennedy said, “We express our gratitude for the dedicated service and courageous deeds of law enforcement officers and for the contributions they have made to the security and well-being of all our people.”
Today, we honor in particular the three officers who perished in the line of duty from the Police Department here in Paramus, who lost their lives protecting our security and well-being: Lieutenant Harry Carlough, Patrolman Michael McEllen, and Patrolman Vincent Brock.
We will never forget their bravery, service, and sacrifice.
Sadly, this year alone, we’ve lost forty-eight police officers in the line of duty across the United States. As we remember and honor them, we are reminded of just how much we owe to the men and women who put their lives on the lines every day to keep our families safe. We cannot repay the debt our communities owe to these heroes and their families. But we can start by expressing appreciation for their bravery, dedication, and service, and making sure that all police officers know they have our support.
One of my first actions after taking office earlier this year – I believe it was my first event in the District — was to join Congressman Pascrell in urging communities to apply for funding for first responders through the SAFER Grant program. As I mentioned, I also joined the bipartisan Fire Fighters Caucus and the bipartisan Law Enforcement Caucus, which Bill chairs. This was just the beginning.
When the U.S. Department of Transportation tried to tell New Jersey towns in January that the blue lines on our roads, painted in support of our law enforcement officers, were out of compliance with road safety standards, I spoke up and immediately wrote the Secretary of Transportation.
Because, there’s no excuse, we must always stand by those who stand by us. Too often these days we just aren’t – and that’s unacceptable. We must always get the backs of those who protect our communities, who make us safer, who make our neighborhoods, like those here in Paramus, the places we want to raise our families and grow our businesses.
Our police officers and all first responders can’t protect us, and themselves, without the resources they need to do their job safely and effectively. The Paramus Police Department understands this. In 2014, they received a $600,000 grant through the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, grant program. At the time, Paramus did not have a Member of Congress who was willing to advocate on their behalf to the federal government to secure funds like these. But they were lucky enough to have a good neighbor in Bill Pascrell to fight to get them those resources that allowed them to hire five officers. They, in essence, adopted a Congressman. Well, now the Fifth District and Paramus have me too – to get your backs. I’m pleased to report that you now have a Member of Congress that has a very different attitude than his predecessor. The family of supporters just got bigger. You now have another true friend and tireless champion in your District.
I am committed to doing everything I can to make sure our law enforcement officers, and all first responders, get the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. And I will work to claw back every possible nickel from our federal taxes to help protect our communities and keep them safe from crime and terror. It’s thanks to the protection you provide that people raise their families there and we must make sure it stays that way.
That means working with local towns and police departments to identify potential sources of federal funding, and then advocating relentlessly on their behalf to make sure those funds come here instead of going to other places. Resources to fight crime and the opioid crisis, to stop lone wolf terror, to protect our streets.
As many of you have heard me talk about, our region gets some of the worst return on investment for our federal tax dollars compared to anywhere in the country. We are one of the top taxpaying District in the entire country, yet we are toward the bottom of what we get back – just 33 cents for every federal tax dollar we’ve been sending to Washington. That’s less than half the New Jersey state average. Places like West Virginia get $4.23 cents for every taxpayer dollar they send to Washington. It’s a raw deal for us and it means that our local towns and property taxes have to make up the difference. Since these are already-allocated funds, what better way to work to close that ROI gap than by supporting our police departments and using that money to keep our communities safe.
And while some have put the COPS Grant program on the chopping block, I will stand arm in arm with Bill to make sure that doesn’t happen. In fact, during the recent negotiations to avoid a government shutdown and pass an appropriations bill, I’m proud to report that we were able to increase the resources allocated for grants to our law enforcement officers, including additional grants for armor vests.
Earlier this month, I introduced an amendment that would restore tools to help protect 9/11 first responders from financial scammers who would prey on these heroes financial security.
And, at the beginning of the year, I had the opportunity to invite a hero police officer who took a bullet while helping to apprehend a terrorist to be my guest for the President’s address to the joint session of Congress. Officer Angel Padilla helped capture Ahmad Rahami, the terrorist who detonated a massive bomb, injuring 29 people, in Chelsea, New York. In the process, he was shot but protected by his bulletproof vest, underscoring the need to invest in the equipment our officers need to stay safe. Officer Padilla is a national hero. His bravery highlights how not only do cops protect us from criminals, but our first responders are also on the front lines of the war on terror.
Our war on terror is a war fought on multiple fronts, and in Congress, I am committed to doing whatever I can to stop terror in its tracks. The threats we face aren’t just coming from overseas. They are here. Homegrown and Lone wolf terrorists don’t need to go overseas to get their training; they literally can sit in their living room and watch YouTube videos. It’s difficult to detect and stop someone who was radicalized in their own apartment here in New Jersey.
The attacks are coming from all directions. This morning, I was at the New York Stock Exchange’s Mahwah Data Center – the whole back end of the Exchange. We discussed the global ransomware cyber attack this weekend.
But preventing attacks of all sorts begins with community policing practiced by the officers here in Paramus and across our region is critical. Members of our local communities are best situated to see alarming changes in someone’s behavior, so it’s essential that they have strong and trusting relationships with law enforcement and know what to look for and where to turn if they see something troubling from a coworker, parishioner, classmate, or neighbor.
To close, I’d like to reiterate to the law enforcement officers who are here today how deeply grateful I am for your service and sacrifice. Your work to keep our communities safe helps make our region and nation great.
I will always have your backs the way you have the backs of the towns you serve. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.