FREEHOLD – The National Police Defense Foundation named Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) their 2021 Legislator of the Year citing the Congressman’s “outstanding legislative support on behalf of law enforcement” and his tireless efforts and success in authoring laws to combat crime in the United States and around the world.
“As an elected official—and the father of a law enforcement officer—words are inadequate to convey the gratitude and respect that I and the vast majority in the community have for you and your families,” Smith said in his remarks to the law enforcement community. “Make no mistake about it” he said, “you are the men and women of extraordinary courage who actually take the risks, sweat the details, and face danger each and every day in order to ensure public safety.”
Founded by retired Federal Agent Joseph Occhipinti and his wife Angela in 1995, NPDF runs the multi-faceted “Operation Kids” child safety program and is nationally renowned for providing free medical and psychological services to law enforcement officials who have become disabled in the line of duty, as well as a legal defense program dedicated to protecting officers.
A longtime supporter of those in law enforcement, Smith has written many laws to combat crime and assist victims, including the Nation’s landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. He has also authored four additional anti-trafficking laws; including International Megan’s Law to establish a system of notification to protect children from convicted pedophiles who may seek to travel to abuse children—which has resulted in nearly 6,000 denials of international travel by known pedophiles to date.
Smith has also strongly opposed recent legislation in Congress to eviscerate “qualified immunity” for law enforcement. A judicially created legal doctrine, qualified immunity shields government officials, including law enforcement, from personal liability lawsuits so long as their actions do not violate “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”
Smith does not limit his attention to supporting police, he is as staunch a proponent and supporter of the military from all ages. It was Congressman Smith who made it possible for a Middletown NJ family to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor received by an ancestor, James T. Fallon, during the Civil War. The Medal of Honor had been on display in a Pennsylvania university museum for many years, purporting to be a different Medal of Honor earned by an alumnus of that university. Through the efforts of Muriel J. Smith, the Medal that was wrongfully displayed was removed from the university museum and returned to the US Department of the Army. It was only through Congressman Smith’s efforts it cold be returned to New Jersey and the family of the honoree.