Houses of worship should be a sanctuary, a place where people come together and give thanks to God and His many gifts to us all. To have such wanton death and destruction visit a congregation of worshippers on a Sunday morning is devastating. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.

We know little about what motivated the killer to attack. We don’t know if this event could have been prevented. It almost doesn’t matter because knowing these things will not mend the hearts of those families or bring back those who were so violently taken from them.

As law enforcement officers, our job is to keep the peace. Those determined to do violence, often without any thought of preserving their own life, can and do break that peace. The victims could be law enforcement officers protecting demonstrators, concert-goers on a warm evening or even school children going about their daily routine. Law enforcement cannot be everywhere, we cannot always protect the peace, and this kind of violence reminds us all just how fragile peace and human life can be.

Those in our profession often say we are never off-duty and never really retired. Our training, vigilance and a deep-seated commitment to peace and public safety never go away. It is for this reason that the FOP fought so hard to pass the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act (LEOSA), known to many of our members as H.R. 218. In a sense, it creates a force-multiplier for public safety, allowing qualified off-duty and retired officers to potentially respond to the threat of violence we witnessed yesterday.

I remind all of our members that this is your option. While on the job, we rely on your good judgment in any given situation. We will rely on that now. Know the law, know yourself, and know the situation. We cannot know when there will be another threat to our peace, but I am confident that our members will be ready to protect that peace.

The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest law enforcement labor organization in the United States v,1ith more than 330,000 members.