Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is introducing legislation that would authorize the Justice Department to increase the salaries of state and local police forces in all states, with the exception of those police departments in cities that have chosen to defund the police.
The Republican senator’s bill, The David Dorn Back the Blue Act, would appropriate $15 billion to hire and retain police officers throughout the country.
The bill was named for David Dorn, a retired black police captain shot and killed in June, allegedly by an armed rioter, during the George Floyd protests. Dorn was reportedly killed protecting a friend’s store from violent rioters in St. Louis. Dorn had served close to 40 years on the police force.
“Police departments across the country are under siege—underfunded, facing increased retirements, and struggling to make new hires. But as violence and rioting sweeps across American cities big and small, our courageous law enforcement officers are more vital now than ever,” Hawley said in a written statement.
According to news reports, at least 13 U.S. cities have cut funding from police department budgets or decreased officer numbers amid a national protest against police brutality after the George Floyd killing in May.
Many Democrat-led cities, like Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, and Baltimore are leading the charge on downsizing their police force.
He added, “Democratic politicians are bending to radical activists who want to defund the police. We should do just the opposite. Our officers deserve a raise, not defunding. They deserve our unqualified support, and this bill would give it to them.”
If the bill becomes law, police departments will have new federal funding at their disposal allowing them to increase the salaries of officers “up to 110 percent of the local median earnings,” Hawley’s office explained in a statement.
The Missouri senator’s statement also cited a decrease in morale among U.S. law enforcement and said it is one of the key motives for introducing this legislation.
A well-known example of the effects of defunding the police is Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best resignation in August, where she suddenly announced her decision after the progressive city council voted to strip her police department of more resources, including cutting close to 100 jobs.
In an interview with KUOW in August, Best expressed concern that she had not seen the city council’s proposal before the vote to redirect funding for her department.
“What really concerns me is I just have not seen the plan,” Best said.
“We have 800,000 calls for service every year. If you just lop off, even 100 officers, that’s going to be highly detrimental to a department that wasn’t staffed enough to deal with the calls we did have. And who is going to answer? ” Best added.
Hawley believes that the increase in violence and vilification of officers has increased the demands and dangers for new and veteran officers. The senator believes their pay should be proportionate to that change and reflect any increased risk.