The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Deb Fischer
U.S. Senator 

National Police Week

 

May 11 to May 16 was National Police Week. It’s an opportunity to show our gratitude and appreciation to the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep our people and communities safe.

Nebraskans take police week seriously. From the candlelight “Walk the Beat” vigil in Omaha to National Law Enforcement Day memorial services in Douglas County and Grand Island, we demonstrate that we back the blue. 

We honor our fallen officers, like Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco and Lincoln Police Officer Mario Herrera who were killed in the line of duty. This year’s Police Week Resolution also includes remembrance of Reserve Deputy Kevin Kennedy, Jr., of the Lincoln County Sherriff’s office, who passed away from COVID-19 while working in the line of duty during the height of the pandemic. We pray for their children, spouses, and families who share in this heartbreaking sacrifice.

Outside of Nebraska, however, we continue to hear many – far too many – voices who villainize the police and the vital work they do. This rhetoric has diminished morale and made officers’ jobs more dangerous.

For one thing, we are seeing a drain on law enforcement agencies. Numbers of law enforcement officers rose from 2014 to 2020. However, over the past two years, retirements and resignations are climbing, while recruitment numbers are down.

Many of our law enforcement agencies are receiving far fewer applications. This is something I discussed directly with Sergeant Tony Conner, the president of the Omaha Police Officers Association, in a recent meeting. Application numbers for some Nebraska law enforcement agencies are down 75%, or more, compared to a few years ago.

Additionally, last year, we saw surges in violence and aggression toward officers – 346 police officers were shot in the line of duty and 130 of them were targeted and shot in ambush-style attacks. 

In a recent CBS ‘60 Minutes’ interview, FBI Director Christopher Wray said there has been a 59% increase in the murders of police officers, with 73 officers killed in 2021. That’s a rate of about one officer killed every five days.

In LA, Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington, DC, and other cities, liberal prosecutors often fail to hold violent criminals accountable. The impact on public safety is clear.

In New York City, the number of carjackings has quadrupled over the past four years. In Chicago, more than 1,800 carjackings were reported in 2021.  In Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police confirmed that carjackings have tripled since 2019.

The administration’s efforts to address the rise in violent crime have been weak. That is unacceptable. I am supporting a resolution that actually gets at what we should be doing. It demands that the president work with Congress on a comprehensive strategy that encourages the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, as well as state and local law enforcement officers to counter the rise in violent crime by reinforcing strong criminal justice policies. The Senate should pass this without delay.

Our law enforcement officers who wear the badge deserve our gratitude and support. The sacrifices they make, and the sacrifices their families make, keep us safe. We stand with our men and women in blue.

This National Police Week, I hope you will take the time to show those who wear the badge how much you appreciate what they do for our communities.

 

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