Pub­lic safety is­sues fit for din­ner ta­ble, state Capi­tol

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY AARON CROWELL Aaron Crowell is pres­i­dent of the Texas Mu­nic­i­pal Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion.

To our new Texas Leg­is­la­tors: Con­grat­u­la­tions on your elec­tion! Af­ter a long and of­ten tense elec­tion cy­cle, it is fi­nally time to leave your dis­tricts, go to Austin and do the work of the peo­ple who elected you.

With the ad­di­tion of many new state sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the 28,000 mem­bers of the Texas Mu­nic­i­pal Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion – the largest law en­force­ment as­so­ci­a­tion in Texas – be­lieve this leg­isla­tive ses­sion has great po­ten­tial. But we all have work to do in or­der to keep Tex­ans safe. And it is work we must do to­gether.

The safety and pros­per­ity of each neigh­bor­hood in Texas is de­pen­dent on a ro­bust law en­force­ment pres­ence; that re­quires a suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship be­tween res­i­dents, elected lead­ers and po­lice of­fi­cers. In or­der to main­tain thriv­ing, pro­fes­sional po­lice de­part­ments, and to make our neigh­bor­hoods safer and more liv­able, it is im­por­tant that we ad­dress crit­i­cal law en­force­ment is­sues in 2019.

A crit­i­cal con­cern for law en­force­ment that some­times goes un­voiced is of­fi­cer ben­e­fits. We ask that law­mak­ers and city lead­ers across Texas keep the prom­ises made to the men and women who pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties 24/7, 365 days a year, by pro­tect­ing our ben­e­fits.

Fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity is a small part of the over­all sac­ri­fice po­lice of­fi­cers make, but the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing pen­sion ben­e­fits can­not be over­stated. Other­wise, vet­eran of­fi­cers will con­tinue to leave our pro­fes­sion, and leave our streets pa­trolled by fewer and less-ex­pe­ri­enced of­fi­cers.

En­sur­ing the law con­tin­ues to side with the in­no­cent and law-abid­ing, rather than the guilty and cor­rupt, is also crit­i­cal to our suc­cess. It is in this spirit that we op­pose re­duc­tions in ar­rest author­ity for class C mis­de­meanors.

Fur­ther­more, we op­pose the cur­rent move­ment to end as­set for­fei­ture. This only helps the drug car­tels that are ex­ploit­ing our por­ous bor­der and wreak- ing car­nage in our cities. It is clear the as­set for­fei­ture law that al­lows law en­force­ment to seize ve­hi­cles and other prop­erty of crim­i­nal drug gangs re­duces crime in our cities.

We have no is­sue with the cur­rent move­ment to re­duce penal­ties for non­vi­o­lent of­fend­ers, be­cause we want to suc­cess­fully rein­te­grate these of­fend­ers into so­ci­ety. But those who are a threat to our safety and the pub­lic should not re­ceive re­duced penal­ties.

Po­lice of­fi­cer as­so­ci­a­tions will con­tinue to fight to pro­tect dues col­lec­tion, so we can ap­pro­pri­ately rep­re­sent our mem­bers. There are those who con­tinue to mis­rep­re­sent the usage of dues de­duc­tions for po­lice as­so­ci­a­tions, but here are the facts: the dues col­lected via pay­roll de­duc­tion in Texas are com­pletely vol­un­tary, mean­ing there is no “fair share” in Texas. These dues as­sist of­fi­cers in­jured in the line of duty – and the fam­i­lies of those killed while pro­tect­ing our com­mu­ni­ties. They also al­low law en­force­ment as­so­ci­a­tions to sup­port Lit­tle League Base­ball & Soft­ball pro­grams, Blue Santa and many other char­i­ta­ble causes within their com­mu­ni­ties.

We would also like to see pol­i­cy­mak­ers re­turn to the dis­cus­sion of is­sues that af­fect the vast ma­jor­ity of Tex­ans, in­stead of en­gag­ing in wedge de­bates based on false nar­ra­tives about our pro­fes­sion. If you ever have law en­force­ment ques­tions, we are only a phone call away.

Let’s re­turn to Pres­i­dent Rea­gan’s din­ner ta­ble metaphor and rec­og­nize that what gets dis­cussed at the din­ner ta­ble is what should be dis­cussed on the floor of the House and Se­nate. These meat-and­potato is­sues are, of course, ed­u­ca­tion, health­care and pub­lic safety.

We need a thought­ful ap­proach to mak­ing our com­mu­ni­ties safer and free of po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence. Let’s make 2019 the year we re­turn to ra­tio­nal, thought­ful polic­ing poli­cies that al­low of­fi­cers to do their jobs, which is to keep all of us safe.

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