Scalise Hosts Roundtable with Local Sheriffs, Reaffirms Support for Police as Violent Crime Surges Across Nation

July 16, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) led a roundtable discussion with sheriffs from across Louisiana's First District to talk about the recent surge in violent crime in cities across America and reinforce his support for local police departments as they work to keep communities and businesses safe. Additionally, Whip Scalise denounced the dangerous "defund the police" movement being pushed by the radical left.

Murder rates and aggravated assault offenses have increased drastically in the United States since 2019. Cities where leaders have embraced "defund the police" policies have seen even worse crime rates. Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, and Portland — cities that have either slashed budgets or attempted to withhold funding for police departments — have all seen murder rates skyrocket in the past year, with overall shootings up significantly as well.

Click here or on the image above to watch the press conference.

On the need to fully back police departments:

“I had asked these sheriffs from around the region to get together. Obviously, around the country we're seeing an alarming increase in crime in many cities. We're seeing large spikes in crime, especially violent crime. You're also seeing increased difficulties getting people to sign up for law enforcement. There [are] larger numbers of people retiring from law enforcement, and I've seen morale in some areas very low. Clearly, you've seen some of these efforts to defund the police, that I strongly object to, that have had an impact. 

“But being a police officer is a tough job. It's a tough job in good times. But even in days like today, we've never needed the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep our community safe more than we do now. And, so I first want to start off by thanking the sheriffs and the men and women in uniform who risk their lives to keep our communities safe because it's important that they know we have their back. It's what makes our communities stronger — knowing that if something goes wrong, we can call on law enforcement. 

“I've said this many times, I would not be alive today if it wasn't for the bravery and heroism of police officers who saved me and so many other Members of Congress that day on the ball field four years ago. And so, I know the sacrifices that they make. 

“But they're also dealing with a lot of challenges. And so we talked about some of those today. We talked about some of the things that are happening on the ground and how we at the federal level can be helpful. And also things that are moving through Congress that we need to make sure [that we] are keeping an eye on what we can do to help law enforcement be successful while not undermining the things that law enforcement need to do to keep our communities safe."

Sheriffs from across the district offered remarks following the roundtable discussion:

“[We talked about] national issues and what we can do to try to improve the situation, whether it’s hiring, the amount of rest, and the prisoner issues that we deal with on a regular basis. We all have different jobs. I have a different aspect, being a former legislator in the [Louisiana House of Representatives], but understanding that laws do make a difference and our job is to go out and enforce the laws that are passed. [For legislators] to be able to hear what our concerns are when they’re passing those laws is to understand what the reality is and what’s going to actually happen because of it. We’re trying to live in this country, be safe, and have to deal with it but unfortunately we have people that want to take those freedoms away from us, and that’s where law enforcement comes in. I’m happy to get all of us in the same room and try to discuss some of those issues,” said Joseph Lopinto, Sheriff, Jefferson Parish.

"I want to thank Congressman Scalise for his support of law enforcement here not only in Louisiana but throughout our country, and I know he will continue to fight for us as a whole," said Marlin Gusman, Sheriff, Orleans Parish.

“Unless we’re going to change the rhetoric that’s going around the country right now and get behind law enforcement, we’re going to continue to see an uptick in crime unless we change that narrative,” said James Pohlmann, Sheriff, St. Bernard Parish.

"I want to thank Congressman Scalise for his support of law enforcement here not only in Louisiana but throughout our country, and I know he will continue to fight for us as a whole. There is money available through the federal government as we know, and those grants and funds that we know we want earmarked for equipment, for law enforcement, for corrections so we can keep the bad guys in jail. So, we need those funds to continue to operate, provide the equipment necessary and technology for our guys to do their jobs safely and effectively," said Randy Smith, Sheriff, St. Tammany Parish.

“Nowadays, law enforcement is tough, so we appreciate [Congressman Scalise’s] support that we need in these trying times,” said Gerald Turlich, Sheriff, Plaquemines Parish.

"As law enforcement leaders, it’s our responsibility today to make sure our men and women in law enforcement are well-trained and properly equipped to protect them from harm, civil liability, and now — as you’re seeing across the nation — criminal liability," said Jimmy Travis, Chief of Operations, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office. 

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