Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

In a floor speech honoring the nation's federal employees, Sen. Kaufman applauds Dave DiBetta for his work at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive

July 29, 2009

Mr. KAUFMAN. Madam President, I rise once more to recognize our great Federal employees. Many Americans can recall from memory the acronyms of several Federal law enforcement agencies--FBI, DEA, ATF, and TSA, to name a few. These are more than just acronyms. These agencies are composed of thousands of hard-working men and women who risk their lives to ensure our safety. Today I will share the story of one such law enforcement agent from my home State of Delaware.

When speaking about someone from Delaware who has spent a career risking his life in service to others, I cannot help but think of the generation of Delawareans who fought for independence. They, in particular, are part of the tradition of public service and courageous sacrifice that has always characterized the people of the First State.

I am reminded of Caesar Rodney who, on the 1st of July, 1776, rode his horse 80 miles through a thunderstorm from Dover to Philadelphia to cast a decisive vote in favor of independence. I can only imagine the look on the faces of the other delegates when Rodney burst into Independence Hall, soaking wet in his riding boots, eager to do his part for liberty.

Rodney had already risked his life for the cause of American independence. A month before his famous night ride to Philadelphia, he joined with fellow patriot Thomas McKean at the old courthouse in New Castle. There, before the Delaware Colonial Assembly, the two made the case for separation from Great Britain.

The unanimous resolution by the Delaware Assembly in favor of separation was the first of its kind. By this brave act, its members became traitors to the Crown, punishable by death. This went a long way in encouraging the delegates to the Continental Congress to vote for independence.

Delaware has a long legacy as a pioneer among States. We are recognized as the First State because, as many Americans know, Delaware was the first to ratify the Constitution. Just as we took the first step toward independence, we led the way in accepting the ideas about government that were radical in 1787 but which are recognized today as fundamental to preserving our liberty.

So many Delawareans continue in this tradition of service today. One of them is Dave DiBetta of Wilmington, who has been a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for over 20 years.

Prior to his service with the ATF, Dave served as a military policeman in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Miles in Lewes, DE. He also worked as a customs inspector at JFK in New York. In 1988, Dave joined the ATF as a special agent in New York. Two years later, he was transferred to the Houston Division's Special Response Team, which focuses on high-risk missions.

While serving as an agent in New York and Texas, Dave participated in over 350 high-risk operations, and he was decorated with the ATF's Distinguished Service Medal in 1993. In 1996, Dave began work at ATF headquarters, helping to lead large-scale investigations and managing the bureau's photography program with a $57 million budget. He also taught undercover investigation techniques at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

Dave returned to Delaware in 1999, where he continues his work in the Delaware office, overseeing tobacco and firearm investigations. Dave has assisted in providing security for the 1996 Republican Convention, the 2000 Democratic Convention, as well as the 1996 and 2004 Olympic Games. In the days following the September 11 attacks, Dave was assigned to special duty as air marshal for 6 months, helping to restore public confidence in air travel and serving on the front line against terror.

As part of his duties in Wilmington, Dave represents the ATF at the Dover Downs raceway. He has trained staff how to identify and prevent improvised explosive devices, ensuring the safety of spectators.

Over the course of his two-decade career, Dave has been awarded eight special service awards, the ATF Director's Award, and several letters of commendation. He currently represents the ATF in the leadership of the Federal Law Enforcement Officer Association, and he helped restart the association's Delaware chapter.

When asked about why he decided to work in public service, Dave pointed to the value of voluntarism he learned as an Eagle Scout. He also said he wanted a life characterized by a sense of adventure. Dave said:

I have never had 2 days in my career that were the same. I have traveled to just about every State, been overseas to four countries, I have seen the good and the bad, but one thing I can never say is that it was boring.

Dave and his wife are active in the Wilmington community, volunteering their time for community service projects with St. Anthony's Church and a number of charitable organizations. I had the privilege of meeting Dave last month at the St. Anthony's Italian Festival in Wilmington, and I am so glad he and his family could be here today at the Capitol.

Dave DiBetta's story is one of so many in Delaware and across the country. His willingness to risk his own safety and serve the common good recalls the heroism of our revolutionary forebears, such as Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean, and those other Delawareans who were the first to vote for separation and who fought for freedom.

I hope my colleagues will join me in honoring the contribution made by Dave and other Federal law enforcement agents who daily risk their lives to keep our citizens safe. They all deserve our gratitude.

Madam President, I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.

Mr. DODD. Madam President, before he departs from the floor, I commend our colleague from Delaware, our new colleague from Delaware, Senator Kaufman.

Senator Kaufman was appointed to fill the seat of my great friend and colleague and seatmate for many years, Joe Biden. And while he has only been here about 6 months as a new Member of the Senate, what a wonderful contribution he has made. I have watched him over the last number of weeks, with his focus and attention on people who work for our country every single day but who probably will never get much credit for showing up every day and doing a wonderful job on behalf of the American people. Whether they be civil servants, police officers or others--the military--the fact he has taken as much time--almost on a daily basis, I say to my colleagues and others who may be watching these proceedings--Senator TED KAUFMAN of Delaware has made it his business to express our collective gratitude to these people who serve our country every single day to keep us safe and secure and to keep us functioning as a society.

It may not seem like much to some, but I will guarantee there are thousands of people today who are at work who appreciate it. And there are millions more, I suspect, whose family members, whose neighbors, whose coworkers, and others appreciate the recognition he has given them, as well as some ideas he has brought to the table legislatively to make a difference for people.

So I commend my fellow colleague. For a relative newcomer and a short timer, he has made a substantial contribution to our country, and I thank him for it.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.

Mr. KAUFMAN. Madam President, I wish to say that this has been a labor of love for me, talking about great Federal employees. And I must admit that one of the truly great Federal employees, who embodies everything I talk about when I talk about the other Federal employees--in terms of dedication, in terms of sacrifice, in terms of commitment, in terms of intellect, in terms of participation--is the Senator from Connecticut. I have admired him for many years, and watched how he has done us all proud, and makes every Federal employee proud of the fact that they are a Federal employee, and demonstrates how important our Federal employees are.

I thank the Senator from Connecticut for his kind remarks and for his long and honorable service.

Mr. DODD. I thank the Senator. I did not intend to turn this into a recipient compliment, but I thank him tremendously, and if he wants to talk a little longer, that is fine.

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