Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Wednesday introduced legislation to provide federal support to local law enforcement with the aim of hiring 100,000 new police officers across the U.S.
The bill, a response to rising crime rates in American cities, would provide grant money to local communities to hire new law enforcement officers; increase criminal penalties for assaulting federal officers by 50%; develop programs to protect federal judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers from doxing; give concealed carry rights to federal judges and prosecutors; and increase funding for family services, mental health services, and suicide prevention for federal officers among other measures.
"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.
Hawley's bill is intended to provide a boost to police morale and increase the hiring and retention of peace officers amid a cultural climate that is increasingly hostile toward police. Following the George Floyd riots last year, demands from progressive activists to "defund the police," and accusations that law enforcement is a systemically racist institution police morale has cratered and retirements have soared nationwide.
Meanwhile, major American cities have experienced a 33% increase in homicides last year and violent crime has risen sharply, a statistic Hawley addressed in an appearance on Fox News Wednesday discussing his bill.
"It's absolutely vital that we keep American families safe. That is the bottom line, and right now, too many Americans aren't. Why aren't they? Because … violent crime is up by over 30% in cities across the country," Hawley said. "Unfortunately, that includes my home state of Missouri. We need more cops. We shouldn't be defunding the police. We should be supporting them."
President Joe Biden is set to introduce a comprehensive violent crime prevention strategy that will primarily crack down on gun crimes. According to CNN, the president's strategy will focus on five main pillars:
- Stem the flow of firearms used to commit violence, including by holding rogue firearms dealers accountable for violating federal laws;
- Support local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to help address summer violent crime;
- Invest in evidence-based community violence interventions;
- Expand summer programming, employment opportunities, and other services and support for teenagers and young adults; and
- Help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter their communities.