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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Congress must preserve law enforcement’s ability to access the life-saving gear

Too often good police officers are under attack for putting their lives on the line as the protectors of our communities. In 2020, our televisions and social media feeds were full of vivid images of the dangerous encounters that police officers face on a daily basis. The Black Lives Matter protests-turned-riots created some of the most treacherous situations the thin blue line is responsible for confronting on our behalf.

And what did these officers hear from their elected leaders in the aftermath of the violence? Whereas Democrats used to at least pay lip service to support for our men and women in uniform, now they are the party initiating efforts across the country to defund, and all-too-often defame, our courageous law enforcement officers. Meanwhile, George Soros successfully bankrolled efforts to remove effective prosecutors, even those more reasonable Democrats in large cities, and replaced them with more radical hand-picked candidates who pledged not to prosecute crimes — all in the name of equity.

As Democrats at every level of government dogmatically pursue policies to defund and undermine our police, our communities are experiencing a surge in violence as a result from a significant spike in homicides. In 2020, 21,570 homicides took place nationally according to the FBI, an increase of nearly 5,000 from the previous year. Similarly, in my home state of Virginia, homicides increased by 23 percent from 2019 to 2020. There were also 15,000 more violent crimes committed across the country in 2020, than were committed in the previous year.

Undeterred by rising crime or concern for the safety of Americans, on March 2 of this year, House Democrats unanimously passed H.R.1280, which should truly be named the “Defund the Police Act.” It would impose crippling unfunded mandates on local police departments, end qualified immunity, and impose restrictions on the 1033 Program, which serves to provide cash-strapped local police departments access to life-saving military surplus equipment. 

Law enforcement offices across the country rely on access to the equipment provided by this program, and any restriction would leave them more vulnerable and at greater risk in emergencies including riots, natural disasters, and bomb threats. However, Democrats voted for legislation that would limit the ability of police departments to obtain this life-saving equipment to assist with border security and counter-drug operations and are instead, seeking to restore Obama-era restrictions on the 1033 program.  

This is why earlier this Congress, I introduced H.R. 2314, the Protect Our Police Act, which would prohibit the Biden administration from unilaterally issuing any restriction on the 1033 Program. It would also codify Executive Order 13809, in which the Trump administration rolled back dangerous Obama-Biden era restrictions on the purchase of 1033 equipment.

A 2017 study concluded that a 10 percent increase in the total value of military aid leads to a decrease of 5.9 crimes per 100,000 population. This study further found that, based on the average true cost of a crime to the community, an estimated $5,800 worth of military gear transferred to local law enforcement can result in taxpayer savings of $112,000. My Protect Our Police Act is a win-win for public safety and for taxpayers, as it would reduce the overall tax burden while protecting access to an effective crime-reduction tool.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, not a single Democrat has joined me in supporting this commonsense legislation. We have a president who currently believes that climate change, Trump supporters, and now parents who attend school board meetings, are the greatest threats to America. And, we have a Congress that is relentlessly trying to spend trillions of taxpayer dollars on more radical socialist programs. They would rather provide funding to double the number of IRS agents than offer no-cost assistance to our state and local law enforcement. For sheriffs and police chiefs, they offer only criticism, unfunded mandates, and calls to stand-down in the face of violence and looting. 

America’s men and women in law enforcement, veterans, and active-duty service members all deserve better than the Democrats are willing to provide. We must preserve law enforcement’s ability to access the life-saving gear necessary to fulfill their job duties and keep our communities safe. Our lives and theirs truly depend on it. 

Good represents Virginia’s 5th District.

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