For the last few years, police officers around the country have been retiring or quitting their jobs in record numbers. The New York Police Department alone had 5,300 uniformed officers retire or quit in 2020, which is 15% of the total number of officers on their entire force. This is nearly double the rate who retired or quit during the previous year. So far this year, 830 additional officers have left the NYPD. The anti-police sentiment brewing in many parts of the country, coupled with historically low pay and working incredibly long, tough hours has taken an awful toll on the morale of law enforcement nationwide.
Making matters worse, several Democrats in Congress have repeatedly made comments contributing to anti-police sentiment. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) tweeted a few more weeks ago saying, “No more policing, incarceration, it can’t be reformed.” More recently, Maxine Waters (D-CA) told violent rioters to “get more confrontational.” This rhetoric is not only unacceptable for members of Congress, but also it has real consequences that affect our communities directly.
Last week, I spent time with local law enforcement discussing ways I can better support them from the federal level. After spending 8 years on the county commission working closely with our local law enforcement, I know how hard they work, and I understand just how important it is for them to have the support of elected officials and the communities they serve.
I invited all our local sheriffs and police chiefs to a roundtable to share with me what their needs and concerns are, and so we could discuss ways I can help them as they work to recruit high-quality officers and secure the best technology and equipment. I also took time Friday afternoon to do a ride-along with Escambia County Sheriff Heath Jackson so I could see firsthand what a day in his life is like. Folks like Sheriff Jackson work tirelessly to keep south Alabama a safe place to live, work, and raise a family, and I’m incredibly grateful for their service.
Now, more than ever, our local law enforcement is in desperate need of increased resources as well as support from the communities they serve. Police officers willingly choose a tough job with long hours and inadequate pay, so it is critical for us to give them the support and respect they need. South Alabama is blessed with incredible law enforcement officers, and I will continue doing all I can to support them from the federal level.
Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.