Tester, Boozman Introduce Bipartisan "Honoring Hometown Heroes Act"

Senators Honor National Police Week by Recognizing First Responders Who Die In Line of Duty

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) are recognizing National Police Week by introducing the Honoring Hometown Heroes Act to honor first responders who make the ultimate sacrifice.

The Honoring Hometown Heroes Act will amend the U.S. flag code to allow the Governor of a state to order the American flag to be lowered to half-staff in the event that a local first responder dies while serving in the line of duty. Currently, Governors only have the ability to order the flag to fly at half-staff after the death of a government official or the death of a member of the Armed Forces during combat.

“Police officers and firefighters race into harm’s way every day to protect our neighbors and keep our families safe,” Tester said. “This bill will give proper recognition to the first responders who go beyond the call of duty and make the ultimate sacrifice.”

Tester spoke on the Senate floor today and entered into the Congressional Record the names of 128 Montana law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.

“Today is Peace Officers Memorial Day, and across the country, names of fallen officers will be carved into granite, and their photos will be hung in stations for all to see,” said Tester. “But these folks and their families did not have the honor to see the entire state mourn alongside of them because flags were never flown at half-staff. To ensure these folks get the recognition they deserve, today I will enshrine in the Congressional Record the names of the 128 Montana law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.”

Police officers and firefighters from across the nation are applauding Tester and Boozman for their bill.

“Everyday our law enforcement officers act heroically to save and help people they have never met before from all walks of life,” said Chuck Canterbury, President of the Fraternal Order of Police. “These officers take an oath to protect and service their communities to make it a better and safer place for all those that live there. They are even willing to lay down their lives in the service of others.”

“The Honoring Hometown Heroes Act would permit the Governor of a state or territory to lower the American flag to half-staff in the tragic event that a law enforcement officer, firefighter or public safety officer from that jurisdiction dies in the line of duty,” said William J. Johnson, Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations. “This legislation will ensure that first responders who make the ultimate sacrifice while protecting their communities will also have the simple, but meaningful honor of having the flag flown at half-staff.”

“First responders knowingly place their lives in jeopardy to preserve the lives of others. Sadly, not all of these first responders return to their families and homes,” said Fire Chief John D. Sinclair, President and Chairman of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “This simple yet effective and profound action will allow residents across the United States to honor first responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”

“Every community across America relies on fire fighters and emergency medical technicians to respond to a variety of emergency situations. Sadly, more than one hundred times annually, these dedicated emergency responders pay the ultimate price by selflessly giving their very life for the service and protection of their community,” said Harold A. Schaitberger, President of the International Association of Fire Fighters. “The Honoring Hometown Heroes Act is an important piece of legislation that recognizes the sacrifices made by our emergency response professionals.”

Tester and Boozman’s bipartisan bill is also supported by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National Association of Police Organizations, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, National Volunteer Fire Council, National Honor Guard Commanders Association, National Honor Guard Academy, and National Fire Academy Alumni Association.

National Police Week started on Sunday, May 14th and ends on Saturday, May 20th.

Tester is also sponsoring legislation to reauthorize critical initiatives that provide Montana fire departments with essential resources to safety purchase equipment and legislation to allow Postal Police Officers to carry their service weapons while traveling to and from work to better protect themselves and civilians.