CLEAT Press Conference
Thank you Ron. I am honored to stand with the men and women of law enforcement, and to receive this recognition.
However, I think the real heroes in America worthy of recognition are you: the peace officers who protect our neighborhoods and communities. Along with other emergency personnel, you march headlong into danger as others try to escape it.
Our safety as Texans depends on the courage and commitment of officers who wear the law enforcement badge.
As Texans and Americans, we owe a debt of gratitude to you for your service. And we are especially grateful for the service of those CLEAT members who are responding to President Bush’s call to duty as members of the Guard and Reserves.
The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas is an effective voice for Texas peace officers. It has been my honor to work with CLEAT on numerous issues that effect the livelihood of law enforcement personnel.
This last session was a tremendous session for Texas peace officers. I was proud to sign numerous bills aimed at recognizing the service of law enforcement personnel.
We now provide state disability benefits for officers permanently disabled in the line of duty with a new law named after Waco police officer Bill Biles who will depend on a cane for the rest of his life after being shot in the line of duty.
We increased the death benefit to $250,000 for the families of officers killed in the line of duty. The new Aubrey Hawkins Act establishes a database of individuals who threaten a peace officer. We also strengthened privacy laws for peace officers and their families to reduce the probability that they would be targeted at home through an act of vengeance.
And I proudly stood with law enforcement personnel by vetoing Senate Bill 730, which would have hampered the ability of peace officers to make arrests for Class C misdemeanors.
Texans, like all Americans, are very concerned about security in the aftermath of the September 11th attack on America. I want all of our citizens to know that this state is doing everything it can to keep our citizens safe, and taking every measure we can to improve security.
Earlier this week I formed a 21-member Task Force on Homeland Security that will assess potential threats to this state, analyze our readiness to deter attacks and respond to one if ever a tragedy occurs on Texas soil, and that will make recommendations on additional measures that can be taken.
Members of the law enforcement community will play a critical role in that process.
Texas has always been a law and order state, and I will always be a law and order governor.
In 1999 we passed a number of measures to crack down on juvenile gang activity, including increasing penalties for gang leaders who require prospective members to commit a criminal act to gain initiation into their gang.
We have increased penalties for convicted sex offenders who fail to register with the state, and we have given law enforcement the authority to confiscate a driver’s license while making a DWI arrest. We also sent a signal in 1999 that drunk driving will not be tolerated by lowering the blood-alcohol limit to .08.
Lastly, we recently made it clear that criminals should not profit from their crimes, causing additional harm to the victims of a violent crime. We now have new laws to prohibit the disgusting practice known as murderabilia.
The safety of Texans is in the hands of the officers standing by my side. I am grateful for their tireless service…service that comes at a very high cost. Each time they put on that uniform, and kiss their spouse and children goodbye, may be the last time they ever see them.
Texas is a better place because of peace officers who protect us, and preserve our freedom. Thank you. We will be happy to take any questions you may have.
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