Shortly before President Joe Biden unveiled his proposal on June 23 to deal with the crime wave sweeping across the United States, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced his own comprehensive package of legislation that would put 100,000 more law enforcement officers on the streets.
“American families aren’t safe, but they deserve to be. And they can be if we will act. This is not the time to defund the police or vilify them, but to support the brave men and women in blue—and put more of them on the streets. Immediately,” Hawley said in a statement.
During a June 24 Senate hearing that focused in part on the rising crime rate, Hawley said, “It is a simple reality, and the American people are feeling it. The people in my state are feeling it. They are afraid to go out at night. They’re afraid to go out on the streets. They’re afraid to drop their children off at school.”
While the Biden proposal emphasizes stricter enforcement of gun control measures, Hawley focused on strengthening and expanding law enforcement.
During a White House presentation, for example, Biden said his first priority in dealing with the huge increase in homicides and other violent crimes is to “help stem the flow of guns into the hands of those responsible for violence.”
Gun dealers who sell firearms to individuals who are legally barred from having them will be the focus of a major push by the government.
“These merchants of death are breaking the law for profit,” Biden said during the White House presentation. “If you willfully sell a gun to someone who’s prohibited, my message to you is this: We’ll find you and we’ll seek your license to sell guns. We’ll make sure you can’t sell death and mayhem on our streets.”
Hawley described his package of legislation as including:
- 100,000 New Law Enforcement Officers: a bill to provide grants to local communities to support hiring an additional 100,000 law enforcement officers to protect American families.
- Protecting Law Enforcement in the Line of Duty: a measure to increase maximum penalties for assaulting federal officers by 50 percent.
- Protecting Federal Judges, Prosecutors, and Law Enforcement Officers from Violence and Doxing: a bill that directs the Department of Justice (DOJ), together with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to develop programs to protect the privacy and personal information of judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials.
- Protecting Federal Law Enforcement Officers from Doxing: a proposal to double the penalty for doxing federal law enforcement officials and other federal officials.
- Protecting Federal Courthouses and Judges: a bill to increase penalties for damage to federal courthouses and unauthorized access to areas where federal judges work, reside, or visit.
- Promoting Concealed Carry Rights for Law Enforcement Officers: a bill to amend the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) to extend concealed carry rights to federal judges and prosecutors.
- Further Expanding Support for Police Officers: a proposal to expand Hawley’s “Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis Act of 2019” by increasing funding for family services, stress reduction, suicide prevention, and other programs for federal officers.
There’s good and bad news in Biden’s anti-crime approach, Heritage Foundation legal fellow Zach Smith told The Epoch Times on June 24.
“The good news is that Joe Biden and his administration have finally been forced to recognize that the spike in violent crimes, especially the spike in homicides, over the past year and a half is something that can no longer be ignored, they have to address it,” said Smith, a former assistant U.S. attorney for northern Florida.
“The bad news is that many of the proposals that he outlined in his speech yesterday really won’t have much, if any, impact on stemming the tide of violent crime. By and large, it was a combination of a political smokescreen to appease as much as he could his political base,” Smith said.
Smith was somewhat more positive about the likely effects of Hawley’s proposals, should they be adopted.
“The best way to combat the surge in violent crimes in many of these cities is to empower police officers to do their jobs, to make available more officers to police those cities, instead of defunding the police,” he said. “You need more boots on the ground who are going to be able to do their jobs, and then you need to make sure prosecutors in these cities are going to prosecute crimes where appropriate.”
Hawley’s proposal to use federal grants to increase law enforcement by 100,000 officers recalls a similar program by President Bill Clinton known as the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
Clinton’s program failed to reach its goal, however, with a net increase of somewhere between 69,000 and 84,600 additional police officers being funded at a cost of more than $9 billion by the end of his administration, according to a National Institute of Justice study.
Congressional reporter Mark Tapscott may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org