Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column: Supporting our Law Enforcement Officers

Supporting our Law Enforcement Officers


I am constantly amazed by the heroism of the men and women who pursue a career in law enforcement. Every day, they put on their uniforms, leave their homes, and risk their lives to ensure the safety of their communities. With violent and drug-related crimes surging across the country, it is so important that now, more than ever, we support our law enforcement heroes. They are the ones who will protect us and keep our streets safe for our families for years to come.


This past week I had the opportunity to visit the Arkansas State Police Department Headquarters in southwest Little Rock which is now in the 4th District. I was honored that they took the time to welcome me, give me a tour of their facilities, and share stories with me of their jobs.


Among the men and women I met were Colonel Mike Hager, the new Director of the Arkansas State Police, Lieutenant Colonel Jason Aaron, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Kennedy, Chief of Staff Hugh Finkelstein, and Major Stacie Rhoads.


On the visit, I was especially in awe of one particular place at headquarters: The Hall of Honor. Right off the main lobby, the Hall of Honor is a memorial space for Arkansas State Troopers, including K-9 officers, who have died in the line of duty. It was truly impactful to be in such a place that honors the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to Arkansans.


While walking through headquarters together, Colonel Hager shared some jarring statistics from the Arkansas Criminal Patrol’s significant seizures from 2022. The numbers were shocking. In just one year in Arkansas, the Interstate Criminal Patrol seized over 8,000 pounds of marijuana, 370 pounds of meth, and most horrifying to me, 65 pounds of fentanyl. For reference, just two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal. The fentanyl that was seized in Arkansas is enough to kill over 14,000,000 people!


These numbers are appalling. The scariest part is that these numbers are just from the drugs that we know about and that our brave officers have seized. And Arkansas isn’t even close to the top of the list of states by number of overdose deaths. The problem is nationwide, and it’s growing.


This visit was very eye opening. So many of us live our lives blissfully unaware of the horrific crime that’s happening right in our backyards. And why? Because the brave men and women in uniform dedicate their lives to keeping our streets safe. However, as they mentioned in our meeting, the revolving door with repeat offenders needs to be closed meaning the prosecution, sentencing, incarceration, and rehabilitation components of law enforcement need to be strengthened.


Our officers provide such an essential service to our state; they provide security to all citizens, so we can have peace of mind and comfort in our homes. These heroes deserve our utmost respect and gratitude for everything they do to protect our families and communities.


2-24-23 1:05 P.M. KAWX.ORG


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