Congressman Dusty Johnson’s Weekly Column: Combatting Crime Rates

Combatting Crime Rates
By Rep. Dusty Johnson
July 9, 2021

Crime is on the rise across America.

Since the beginning of 2021, cities have faced surging levels of violence. The most staggering statistics have emerged in Portland, where homicides and shootings have jumped by a disturbing 533% and 126% respectively, compared to 2020.

Rates are not likely to slow either, as summer is known to be the most volent time of year.

We all know 2020 was an unprecedented year given the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests that swept the nation last summer, but there are several factors contributing to rising crime rates in our nation.

It’s notable that one commonality among the many cities that are seeing an uptick – including LA, NYC, Portland, Chicago, and Philadelphia – is a reduction in police department budgets in the last year.

Data is clear – the strength of law enforcement impacts crime rates. It’s not surprising, but defunding law enforcement agencies diminishes their ability to carry out their duties effectively. Our nation’s law enforcement has also faced a disheartening increase in police-targeted crime which has caused a significant decline in police recruitment and hiring across the country.

Rising crime rates are a threat to all of us, so it’s important we channel our energy towards forming solutions rather than pointing the finger at one person or one party. Our men and women in blue need the resources to do their job and keep our communities safe.

That’s why I’m supporting the Justice Act, which provides $500 million for state and local law enforcement agencies to equip officers with equipment like body cameras to promote transparency and ensure our officers aren’t wrongfully accused. The Justice Act also requires the development of a curriculum for de-escalation and mental illness training. Just this week, I signed the Police Pledge – I will never support defunding law enforcement while I’m in Congress.

I am also a strong advocate of mental health resources to those that need them the most. I believe many of the problems in our society stem from a lack of investment in mental health – that’s why I worked to extend behavioral telehealth services during the pandemic and have supported mental health resources for Medicare beneficiaries and veterans.

From investing in economic development and behavioral health resources to sufficiently funding our law enforcement agencies, we can combat crime in America. Let’s work together to stop the surge.