Sen. Rand Paul joins NKY law enforcement to honor fallen police officers

Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton is a reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected]

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Local police and government officials gathered at the Northern Kentucky Police Memorial in Covington on Friday morning to honor fallen police officers.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was a featured speaker, and was in attendance on behalf of the officers and their families for National Peace Officer Memorial Day and National Police Week. 

Covington City Commissioner Ron Washington, Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders and Covington Police Chief Rob Nader joined Paul at the podium.

“I think today, as we honor those who have fallen, we think of the future and we think about how we appreciate what a great community we have here in Covington, what a great state we have in Kentucky,” Paul said. “What we need to do is defend and honor the police.”

Paul honored the family of Newport officer Anthony Jansen, who was killed in the line of duty on Dec. 30, 1984.

Paul also decried calls to “defund the police.”

“I think we need to defend and honor the police,” Paul said. “I think it’s a crazy notion that people within our society want no police, no jails, and just let the criminals run amongst us. I very much appreciate what law enforcement does for us.”

Paul said police officers saved his life when he and his wife, Kelley, were confronted by a large crowd of protesters as he was leaving the White House early in the morning on August 28, 2020. That day, Paul took to Twitter to thank the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia for “literally saving our lives from a crazed mob.” 

Paul also said he appreciated the police for apprehending the gunman who shot Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise and others at the 2017 Congressional baseball practice shooting.

“I was on the ballfield when Steve Scalise nearly was killed,” Paul said. “One hundred sixty shots were fired that day. Police officers brought him down, so I very much appreciate the police.”

Washington, a former law enforcement officer, spoke on the sacrifices police officers make every day in order to protect and serve the citizens of their communities.

“My hat goes off to the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice to make this community safe and make communities safe around our nation,” Washington said. “As a young police officer, I was here when this memorial was dedicated. And by the grace of God, my name is not on that memorial. So once again, my hat goes off to the men and women who are protecting our city and my heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones.”

Nader thanked and honored fallen and living police officers across Northern Kentucky. He spoke on the increasing difficulties police officers across the country have faced in the past few years, including problems exasperated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is a job that’s getting harder,” Nader said. “The last two years have been rough on police agencies. We all know what the pandemic did, and continues to do to our nation. Here in the police world, we didn’t have the luxury of essentially sheltering in place either by working from home, or staying home altogether. Though we were out there the same as always, doing whatever it took to keep the streets and homes safe, or as I call it, protecting and serving.”

Nader said the increased scrutiny police officers face on social media has affected the potential applicant pool of people willing to enter the police force. Nader emphasized that the ability to criticize the government is “one of the things that make our nation great.” Although Nader said he believes the vast criticism police officers received in recent years have painted all officers with too broad a brush.

“We took an oath, and we work impossibly hard to do an almost impossible job,” Nader said, “to be problem solvers, crisis intervention specialists, marriage counselors and social workers, to help victims while bringing offenders to account.”

While Nader identified a growing recruitment problem for police, Sanders said he believes that situation will change.

“There is some good news. If you look close enough, if you listen hard enough, you will see it, you will hear it, it’s the pendulum starting to swing back the other way,” Sanders said. “That pendulum at times in the last couple years was so critical of police officers, it is swinging back the other way. ‘Back the Blue’ is coming back in fashion.”

Sanders said rising murder, violent crime, and smash and grab robbery rates across the country have given communities a renewed appreciation for police officers.

“The good news for Northern Kentucky is that we’ve always backed the blue here,” Sanders said. “Our police departments have always been people that we know, that we trust, that we appreciate.”

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