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Recognizing Emergency Responders

Adrian Smith 3rd Dist


Recent severe weather and wildfire disasters in Nebraska’s Third District have highlighted the critical role the Americans who serve our communities as firefighters, police, emergency medical service workers, and members of the National Guard play in protecting our communities and property and saving lives. As the men and women who dedicate themselves to service in the face of tragedy, crime, and disaster watch over us across the country, our emergency services do not take time off. These Americans deserve to be honored.

The readiness of Third District emergency responders to willingly place their lives on the line for our communities is extraordinary. As I wrote in my May 3rd column, when the Arbor Day tornadoes ripped through our communities, local and state responders were swiftly on the scene to care for injured Nebraskans and lead storm recovery. When Central Nebraska wildfires claimed over 70,000 acres in 24 hours in late February, volunteer firefighters played a primary role in containing the blaze. Among Nebraska’s fire departments, 92 percent are volunteer based, as are nearly 70 percent of departments nationwide.

This week, as we recognized National Police Week, the House passed several measures supporting law enforcement officers. To ensure retired officers are not hindered by burdensome firearm restrictions, the House passed Rep. Don Bacon’s (R-NE) Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) Reform Act. This bill expands the authority for retired officers to carry concealed firearms across state lines and within public spaces which criminals may see as vulnerable, such as school zones, national parks, and certain federal facilities. If qualified former officers who spent a career in law enforcement are willing to continue to play a role in keeping Americans safe, we should take every opportunity to empower them to do so.

Law enforcement officers are also on the front lines of securing our nation’s border and keeping our communities safe. Sadly, rates of fentanyl-related emergencies have risen, and as Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas neglects his responsibilities, 1.8 million known “gotaways” have crossed the border without the administration’s knowledge of their identity, whereabouts, or intent. According to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, 99 percent of fentanyl seized entering our country is at our southwest border. The failed policies of the Biden administration have undoubtably contributed to the rising toll and burden on local law enforcement.

To confront this crisis, this week the House passed the Police Our Border Act. This bill holds the Attorney General accountable to fully assess and report to Congress how law enforcement has been strained and financially impacted by the border crisis at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels. The House also passed the Detain and Deport Illegal Aliens Who Assault Cops Act. This bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to apprehend and deport any undocumented individual convicted of assaulting police officers or emergency response personnel.

The rule of law is only as good as those who uphold it. The long hours, sleepless nights, personal risk, and sacrifice paid by loved ones all demonstrate the sacred duty fulfilled by those who protect and serve America. Slogans such as calls to “defund the police” are not merely ill-considered, they are absurd. I will always honor and support these heroes to whom we owe so much.