May 19, 2023

Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: Backing the Blue

May 19, 2023

From our southern border to our own backyard, law enforcement are essential to our safety and security. These courageous women and men in blue make the Good Life we enjoy in Nebraska possible. They put their lives on the line to enforce our laws and keep our streets safe. As we celebrate National Police Week this week, let us recognize the service of those who chose a job that requires the utmost integrity.

While other states attempt to defund the police, Nebraskans respect and support the women and men in blue. When I was governor, I signed into law several pieces of legislation to make good on our commitment to law enforcement. We offered incentives to increase the ability of local agencies to recruit and retain officers. We spent $47.7 million to expand the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island to ensure that officers receive training that adheres to the highest possible standards. We also invested $16.9 million to upgrade our State Patrol Crime Laboratory to better process evidence to solve crimes.

I am particularly grateful for the work Nebraska law enforcement officers do in keeping deadly drugs like fentanyl off our streets. While the drug situation at our nation’s southern border has gone from crisis to catastrophe, the Nebraska State Patrol has stepped up. In my last year as governor, troopers confiscated two times as much methamphetamine, three times as much fentanyl, and ten times as much cocaine as just two years prior. In 2019, Nebraska law enforcement confiscated 46 pills. In the first six months of 2021, that number had grown to 151,000 pills confiscated.

As Senator, I am fighting to ensure our federal government also backs the blue. Recently, I co-sponsored Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) Back the Blue Act to increase penalties for criminals who target law enforcement officers and provide new tools for officers to protect themselves. It also creates new federal crimes for assaulting a federally-funded law enforcement officer and for fleeing justice across state lines to avoid prosecution. Finally, it protects the self-defense and Second Amendment rights of law enforcement officers in more federal facilities. That’s why the bill is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA). Congress should pass this common-sense legislation without delay.

Another way to support our law enforcement is to oppose laws that restrict their ability to do their jobs with excellence. I recently voted to block two different laws passed by Washington, D.C.’s City Council that would hinder law enforcement’s ability to respond to the violent crime that is out of control in our nation’s capital city. Our Constitution gives Congress oversight authority over Washington, D.C. in recognition of the fact that D.C. belongs to the entire nation. Congress has a responsibility to act when the City Council puts anti-cop, soft-on-crime policies above the safety of the people who live, work, and do business there. I was proud to join a bipartisan group of lawmakers in voting to block these laws and will continue to push back on efforts to undermine the good work police officers do everyday.

As a husband and father, I am grateful to each and every law enforcement officer working to protect Nebraskans and Americans. Their bravery should not go unnoticed. We need to back the blue. When you see a woman or man serving in our law enforcement, please join me in expressing our gratitude for their important work – not just during Police Week, but each and every day.

Along with Senator Fischer and the rest of my colleagues in the Nebraska delegation, my team and I are here to serve you. Contact my team and I anytime by phone at 202-224-4224 or on my website at www.ricketts.senate.gov/contact. I am honored to serve our great state and will continue to work to protect the Good Life from Washington overreach.