Recent Op-Eds

Back the Blue

By Sen. John Thune

May 13, 2022

Being a police officer isn’t just a job. It’s a calling. These are the people we call when there is a car accident, when someone is in trouble or in need, or when someone’s safety is at risk. These are the people who run toward danger and violence when the natural reaction for others is to run away from it. They have dedicated their lives to protecting our communities and keeping our friends, families, and neighbors safe.

We owe our men and women in law enforcement a great debt – a debt few can fully comprehend. They go out and risk their lives every day of the week, every minute of the day – through holidays and other family celebrations. And they bear a heavy physical and emotional burden. It’s tough to have to see such highs and lows on a daily basis – to spend years rescuing children who are in trouble or supporting victims of violence or bringing bad guys to justice. They confront these kinds of things so we don’t have to – and they pay a price. We owe them and their families our profound gratitude.  

We can and we should be doing more to support law enforcement, from local South Dakota communities to the overwhelmed agents at the southern border and everywhere in between. Earlier this month, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, while testifying before Congress, said that morale in the Border Patrol is low, which shouldn’t come as any surprise. Shockingly, Secretary Mayorkas also said that there were more than 389,000 individuals the Border Patrol saw but was unable to apprehend at our southern border during fiscal year 2021. Our Border Patrol officers do heroic work, but they are stretched incredibly thin and have been for more than a year now. Criminals, including human traffickers, drug smugglers, and gang members, regularly attempt to cross our southern border, and when they do, it impacts local law enforcement in communities throughout the country. In essence, the border crisis turns every town in America into a border town.

One of the most important ways we can support law enforcement is with our words and with our actions. Unfortunately, Democrats have spent the last two years championing the “defund the police” movement and soft-on-crime policies, which have resulted in skyrocketing crime and murder rates, low morale among officers, and a record number of police being killed in the line of duty. I know most South Dakotans agree, but let me be perfectly clear: Defunding the police is a terrible idea. We need to fully fund law enforcement, support our police and other law enforcement officers, and back the blue.

I am so thankful to those in South Dakota law enforcement who have made our state such a safe place to live, work, and raise a family. Please know that you’re appreciated for all you do.

Every week, but especially during National Police Week, I want to recognize and express my sincere gratitude to the men and women who serve our communities and remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Thank you for working every day to protect us, our children, and the cities and towns we call home.