Public safety is one of the most important responsibilities of all levels of government. From our local police and sheriff’s departments to the Iowa State Patrol and National Guard, protecting the communities they are sworn to serve is critical as everyone deserves to feel and be safe, welcomed, and respected in Iowa.
Across the state of Iowa, there are challenges facing each community. I have appreciated the work of the Ankeny Police Department on creating a community engagement team to build trusted relationships with residents. Among other things, these officers are trained in crisis and intervention to help those in need of support, especially as related to mental health. Although Ankeny’s program is currently funded by a federal grant, the need exists to expand to reach more people. Providing state resources to support community engagement teams within our police departments, as well as funding for deescalation training and meaningful cultural awareness programs, is something state lawmakers should consider as a way to support our officers and the people they serve.
As we have seen a rise in gun violence across our community, state, and country, a critical component of public safety is focusing legislative efforts on common sense gun safety to protect every member of our community. Common sense gun laws are also a way to support our police officers from dangerous, highly-armed confrontations. All rights come with responsibilities, including universal background checks, permits and safety training, and limits on high-capacity magazines. I also support efforts for safe storage and red flag laws, with strong due process procedures, to ensure that guns don’t end up in the hands of those who intend to do harm to themselves or others.