Law enforcement professionals at all levels, from local police forces to sheriff’s departments, state police and federal law enforcement agencies, leave home each day not knowing what challenges they will encounter, but prepared to face danger head on. We are all grateful for the service and sacrifice of our officers and we have a responsibility to ensure they have the resources, equipment and training to do their job.
I recently had the opportunity to visit with law enforcement personnel from across the state at the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police executive development course to discuss public safety and the work they do every day to help in an emergency. Given the concerns about crime across the country, their role is even more important.
A poll taken within the last few weeks by Politico/Morning Consult found public safety is a top concern for citizens nationwide. According to the findings, one solution to reduce crime rates is more funding for police departments.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding at the U.S. Department of Justice, I’ve championed federal initiatives supplying financial support for training, personnel, equipment upgrades and enhanced information sharing between all federal agencies.
Programs like the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) have been instrumental in helping Arkansas law enforcement agencies hire additional officers, purchase new gear and technology and facilitate multi-jurisdictional efforts such as drug task forces.
Coordination between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies allows us to better fight drug trafficking. As a result of the crisis at our southern border, there is an increasing flow of lethal fentanyl onto our streets. This synthetic opioid is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and it’s having a direct impact in Arkansas as fentanyl is now the leading cause of overdose deaths in our state.
Arkansas law enforcement officers have successfully seized hundreds of thousands of fentanyl pills, but the challenge is only growing as the drug is being disguised in forms like prescription pills and candy.
We’ve all seen the news stories about the increase in crime in our state and across the country. With the surge in violent crime, we must hold criminals accountable and send a clear message to those who attack our brave officers that there will be consequences. This Congress I’m proud to support legislation to create federal penalties for individuals who deliberately target local, state or federal law enforcement officers with violence.
Fostering critical partnerships is vital to maintaining public safety. Police departments across the state have implemented citizens academies that are proving valuable in connecting with the community. Other law enforcement officials have discovered engaging community leaders, public interest entities and ordinary citizens on a regular basis to provide updates on police issues has strengthened trust and accountability.
We are grateful for the dedication, commitment and service of individuals who wear the badge and protect our streets. As a member of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, I am committed to supporting the heroes who come to our rescue and building on the work of ensuring they have everything they need to do their jobs with professionalism and integrity.