'These calls never get any easier': FBI Director makes impassioned plea to recognize line of duty deaths

PHOTO: FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 23, 2019.PlaySusan Walsh/AP
WATCH At hearing on Capitol Hill, FBI director addresses dangers facing law enforcement

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray opened his testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary committee with an impassioned plea to the committee and the American people to recognize the dangers that law enforcement officials face across the country.

"A line of duty death is personal to the FBI and it is personal to me as Director, and I have a feeling it’s personal to a number of you," Wray said.

He said that every time he is told that an officer has fallen in the line of duty, he asks staff to provide him with a picture and bio of the officer’s family and he calls the police chief or supervising officer to personally offer his sympathies.

"I've had to make an awful lot of those calls to heartbroken police departments," he said.

Wray added that he sees clearly how much of an impact state and local law enforcement have after visiting all 56 FBI field offices and talking to state law enforcement leaders.

"One of the toughest parts of the job is the loss of a law enforcement officer," Wray said, growing emotional. "The success of the FBI also depends greatly on the support of our dedicated state and local law enforcement partners who patrol our neighborhoods…"

Wray said that just last month, while abroad, he had to make five calls to departments in nine days because they had lost an officer, and highlighted fallen officer stories from senators' states on the committee.

"These calls never get any easier," he said. "The level of vioelnce against law enforcement in this country doesn't get a lot of national coverage and I worry that Americans don't realize the extent of the problem."

According to FBI data, 24 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty to date this year, all by handguns. In 2018, 106 officers were killed in the line of duty, 55 were killed feloniously and 51 officers died of accidents, FBI data shows.