WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to honor the lives of two Virginia State Police officers killed in the line of duty.
In conjunction with National Police Week, Spanberger shared the stories of Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, who were killed in a helicopter accident in August 2017. Officers Cullen and Bates crashed in a rural area while responding to violence surrounding the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
During her speech, Spanberger—a former federal law enforcement agent—remembered the lives of the officers, and she reinforced her commitment to stand with law enforcement officers and their families.
Click here to watch her full remarks. A full transcript of her speech is below:
I rise today to remember the remarkable lives of two Virginia State Police officers—one from our district, in Midlothian, and one from nearby New Kent County. They were both killed in the line of duty.
On August 12, 2017, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates were not responding to any ordinary call.
Instead, they were flying via helicopter to an event that became infamous as one of the darkest days in modern Virginia history.
Cullen and Bates were en route to Charlottesville to monitor the events transpiring around the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally. Forces of hate had gathered, and law enforcement was called in to help end the chaos.
After police had cancelled the event as an unlawful assembly, Cullen and Bates were instructed to assist their fellow officers.
They were to circle over Charlottesville—and their mission was to provide surveillance of the violence, restore order, and help the community end the nightmare that had transpired.
However, mid-flight, their helicopter crashed on the outskirts of Charlottesville—and both Cullen and Bates were killed in action.
In the wake of tragedy and the stress of the Charlottesville protests, Executive Director Wayne Huggins of the Virginia State Police Association said, “I don’t know if state police, in its 85 years, has had a more excruciating time.”
The pain of the families of Lieutenant Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Bates is unimaginable. And the loss experienced by the Virginia State Police and their fellow brothers and sisters in the law enforcement community is still felt to this day.
This National Police Week, we remember the brave and dedicated service of Lieutenant Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Bates. They died in an effort to protect their fellow Virginians, and their sacrifice will always be remembered.
As a former federal agent, as the daughter of a career law enforcement office, and—most respectfully—as a grateful American and Virginian, I thank our first responders and peace officers for dedicating their lives to keeping us safe. This week and every week, we stand with our law enforcement officers, and we will never forget those who laid down their lives for their neighbors.
National Police Week runs from Sunday, May 12, 2019 to Saturday, May 18, 2019.