With U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley
Q: What’s contributing to the postpandemic rise in violent crime in America?
A: With the open border policies of this administration and “defund the police” rhetoric coming from the left side of the ideological spectrum, a sense of lawlessness is infecting society, undermining public safety on our streets and making Americans feel less safe. The rise in crime sprees, robberies, car-jackings, mass shootings and homicides is making people wonder if they will be safe going to the grocery store, school and place of worship. As the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ve participated in a series of hearings this year to examine hate crimes, gun violence and law enforcement in America. At my invitation, a police officer from Cedar Falls, Iowa appeared before the committee in July and provided emotional testimony regarding the murder of Patrol Sgt. Jim Smith last year in Grundy Center. He was at the scene when Sgt. Smith was shot and killed. He attributed the murder to the lack of respect for law enforcement and movement to “defund the police.” In his testimony, he said: “The image of an officer has been tarnished in recent years. We are consistently being scrutinized, ridiculed, and disrespected.” His message to Congress and the American people is important to share: “As law-enforcement officers we talk about holding the line, the thin blue line. Serving and protecting those in need. We need our families, our friends, our communities and our nation’s leaders to have our back as we fight to hold that line.”
Last year, 73 officers were killed intentionally, the highest number since the 9/11 attacks. In addition, 133 officers were shot in ambush style attacks. Violent crime is on the rise and so is violence against police officers. The demonization and disrespect shown to our men and women in blue create a clear and present danger to the public. The widow of Sgt. Smith wrote a letter that I submitted into the record at the hearing. She explained how her husband protected the state capital in Iowa during the riots in 2020. Frozen water bottles and rocks were thrown at his tactical team and “protestors spit and insulted them” for hours at a time. Earlier this summer, I held a roundtable with Iowa law enforcement officials in the Quad Cities. They told me that low morale is creating significant recruitment and retainment issues in their communities, especially in rural areas. As ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee and pro tem emeritus in the U.S. Senate, I’m proud to Back the Blue. In this Congress, three of my bills were signed into law to boost mental health resources for police and provide financial support for officers disabled in the line of duty. I’ve also introduced legislation to help first responders fight post-traumatic stress disorder and provide additional federal funding to help small law enforcement agencies to recruit, train and retain local police officers for their communities. We need to support law enforcement if we expect law enforcement to protect and serve our communities and keep us safe.
Q: What are you doing to curb violent crime sweeping across the country?
A: This week I introduced legislation that sends a clear signal to the courts to heed congressional intent. And it sends a strong signal to criminals: Violent crime doesn’t pay. The Combating Violent and Dangerous Crime Act would hold criminals accountable for the dangerous violence wreaking havoc on America’s streets and neighborhoods, including car-jackings, bank robberies, kidnappings, homicides and attacks on law enforcement. It includes simple and meaningful reforms to stiffen penalties for federal offenses, provide clarity to courts to hold criminals accountable and outlaw the marketing of candy-flavored drugs to minors. America is losing a generation of young people to overdose deaths. The wrenching loss of teenage sons and daughters from illicit, counterfeit pills is devastating tens of thousands of families across this country. I will continue beating the drum as loud as I can to raise awareness about deadly fentanyl and historic overdose deaths. What’s more, I will keep leading efforts in the U.S. Senate to raise penalties for producing counterfeit pills that kill and get fentanyl-related substances permanently classified as a Schedule I drug. We must do more to keep these deadly drugs out of the hands and bodies of loved ones to keep families intact and our streets safe.
On August 2, Americans across the country will observe National Night Out to salute law enforcement and strengthen the relationships between local police and communities. Dozens of Iowa communities have scheduled community-building events and family friendly activities. Find details about National Night Out events in Iowa at https://natw.org/about.