Community Voices: Why We Should Invest to Protect Our Communities Opinion
This week is National Police Week, a time to honor the brave officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. It is also an important time to thank the current law enforcement officers for their service. With rising crime rates in California and across the country, now more than ever, we need to equip our law enforcement officers with the tools they need to serve and protect our communities.
Unfortunately, the anti-police climate created by far-left politicians, combined with California’s policy on crime, makes this already challenging job even harder.
During my meetings with the local police, I hear directly from the officers how these problems affect their strength. Anti-police sentiment across the country has made it difficult to recruit and retain talent. A survey of departments conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum confirms this and shows that the number of retirements has increased by 45 percent and resignations by 18 percent compared to last year.
Weak policies in California have encouraged repeat offenders, which has led to an increase in the number of criminals on the streets that our officers pick up over and over again to see how they commit more crimes. Police officers are asked to respond to difficult situations such as mental emergencies and domestic violence. This increase in responsibilities combined with a shortage of staff and a society that seeks to make the police bad guys, leads to burnout and low morale.
Our law enforcement officers are constantly asking to do more with less resources.
Cutting departmental budgets does not improve any of these problems and will not make our communities safer. Police departments in small communities, like many in the Central Valley, are struggling to have enough funding to properly recruit, train, and provide resources to their officers. We need to encourage qualified candidates to serve and protect the communities in which we live.
I am proud to support legislation in Congress that will give law enforcement the tools it needs to succeed. The bipartisan Defense Investment Act provides for a grant program through the Ministry of Justice to fund training on de-escalation, domestic violence and security officers for local police departments with less than 200 employees. In this year’s Public Funding Bill, I received critical federal dollars for our local police departments, including funding for the Kings County Sheriff’s Camera Camera Camera Program and the Lemur Police Dispatch Center.
Investing in public safety is just common sense – and that’s what we all need to support.
In addition to our departments being properly funded, we must also provide support to our police officers and their families. Our staff respond to traumatic calls, including homicides, child abuse and domestic violence, and we need to prioritize their mental health and make sure we give them the resources they need to do this difficult job. The Defense Investment Act provides grants for mental health services, treatment and therapy for police officers in small communities like ours.
According to the National Memorial Fund of Law Enforcement, in 2021, 472 officers died in the line of duty, and so far in 2022, 91 officers died in the workplace. Each of these officers put on their uniforms and went to work knowing what risk they were taking. We owe it to these officers that those who serve now have the resources necessary to carry out their work safely and effectively.
I am proud to support our police officers here in the Central Valley. National Police Week reminds us that our police officers are heroes of everyday life who too often do not receive proper recognition and gratitude. I will continue to work to make sure our law enforcement has the tools and resources needed to ensure the safety of ourselves and our communities.
David Valadao, R. Hanford, is a representative of the 21st District of California, which includes Kings County and parts of Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties.