Politics

Weekly Column from the Arkansas House of Representatives 5-14-21

Press release, Arkansas State Representative, Danny Watson

When an officer is killed, it is not only a loss to the agency, it’s a loss to our entire state.

National Police Week is May 9-May 15. May 15 has also been designated as Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor the service and sacrifice of those law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty while protecting our communities. Sadly, Arkansas lost five officers in the line of duty last year.

An estimated 7,000 officers are protecting and serving 3 million Arkansans.

We recognize that a single week is not a sufficient amount of time to honor the sacrifices our law enforcement and their families make daily. We hope the legislation enacted in the most recent session helps to support them throughout the year.

We strengthened the budget for Arkansas State Police and reduced the amount of time they need to serve before they can retire.

We passed Act 714, which requires a city of first-class to establish a city police department and provide the department with proper resources.

We also addressed the mental health of our officers by passing Act 747. This bill states law enforcement agencies must assist a law enforcement officer involved in a critical incident in obtaining services that may help the officer recover from psychological effects.

We passed legislation that was recommended by the Governor’s Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas. Act 218 limits a law-enforcement agency to two part-time officers for every full-time officer. The task force report noted that the higher ratio of full-time officers would strengthen in-house training and enhance stability.

And we passed legislation making sure K-9 units get the necessary medical services they need if injured in the line of duty with Act 790 titled Gabo’s Law.

From patrolling morning rush hour to responding to a domestic call late at night, we ask a great deal from our men and women in law enforcement. We thank them for the selfless service to the communities they serve and our state.

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