The killing of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake have sickened all of us. As did the senseless violence and destruction of property that erupted in their aftermath, heaping tragedy on top of tragedy.
We all depend on our police and first responders to protect life and property and we all have a right to express our feelings and demand change through peaceful protest. But riots are not peaceful protest. Riots are riots. And those who harm others or damage property must be held accountable for their actions.
Obviously, we can't keep doing the same things and expecting different results. I support a number of proposals to make us all safer, and each and every one of them - body cameras, additional protective equipment, deescalation training, and more crisis intervention workers - requires more funding for our police and first responders, not less.
And I think we can all agree that our police should not continue to bear the brunt of all of society’s problems. That's not sustainable financially, and more importantly, it's not fair to those who put their lives on the line for us every day. Surely, some of the responsibilities around mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, poverty, and child services could be performed by specialized professionals outside of law enforcement, easing the burden on our police and resulting in better outcomes for our communities.
Support for our police, fire, and EMS has to be more than a slogan. This is especially important in rural Wisconsin where many of our first responders are volunteers. Elected representatives at the state and federal level must respect the sacrifice of everyone working to protect us, no matter where they live, and step up and reward them with the pay, equipment, and resources they deserve.