Violent Crime Surge: Rep. Kelly, Demings, House Colleagues, Law Enforcement Leaders Speak

Rep. Kelly, outside the U.S. Capitol, speaks at a press conference on violent crime surge.
Rep. Kelly, outside the U.S. Capitol, speaks at a press conference on violent crime. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- Congresswoman Robin L. Kelly (IL-02) joined Rep. Val Demings, former 27-year law enforcement officer and Chief of Police for the Orlando Police Department, along with colleagues and law enforcement representatives, to speak out on the national violent crime surge and the need for leadership at all levels to keep communities safe. Stream can be found here. Alternative stream here.

“Our community leaders are doing everything they can to keep our communities safe and catch criminals, but it isn’t enough,” said Congresswoman Kelly. “We need national action to help prevent crime in cities and towns across the country…solving crimes and bringing justice to victims and their families makes our streets safer, and it also will improve relationships between the community and police who serve them.”

Said Rep. Demings, “Our number one priority has to be the reduction of violent crime. We also have to make sure that we keep crime guns out of the hands of people who should not have them in the first place. We have to invest in those social ills that cause decay in communities in the first place. It’s about investing in our schools today, so we won’t have to invest in our prisons tomorrow.

“We must invest in our police departments. When we take the time to talk to communities, particularly those in high crime areas, they say ‘we want to fund the police.’ In Congress, we spend a lot of time and energy on issues that simply don’t matter. We should all be able to come together on this issue. Public safety is the foundation on which we build great communities. Is anyone really opposed to getting more murderers off our streets? I thank all of my colleagues and partners in law enforcement for joining us today on this important effort.”

Said Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison (Representing the Major Cities Chiefs Association), “My own police officer, Officer Keona Holley, was killed in December after being ambushed in her patrol car while serving her community. According to the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, twelve other officers lost their lives in January after being shot, and this must stop immediately. Local law enforcement officers continue to work tirelessly every day to keep their communities safe. However, we need help from our leaders in Washington…on behalf of the Major Cities Chiefs Association I would like to thank Representative Demings and all of the other Members of Congress who are here today.”

Said U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), “As we are seeing a rise in crime across the country, it is vital that we take steps to invest — not defund — law enforcement, so we can help keep communities and officers safe. That is why I recently introduced a new bipartisan bill, the Invest to Protect Act — with both Democrats and Republicans — to make critical, targeted investments in local police departments.”

Said Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes, “[Representative Demings] has been an FOP Member for many years and as a working street cop brings a knowledge to Congress that is so valuable to our profession. Her experience and background in addressing the nation’s skyrocketing crime rate – she knows how to protect a community because she’s done it, and she’s worked a beat and worked every position up to Chief. She knows that violent crimes, homicides, shootings, are the deepest wounds in our communities…My friends, this is not a political issue, this is a people issue, and one that we need to get right because the outcome is vital and so important to so many people. The VICTIM Act will give resources to agencies across this country in order to be able to address that violent crime…it makes our communities and the job of being a law enforcement officer so much safer.”

Said National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives Executive Director Dwayne Crawford, “This is an American issue, not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. And it is a people issue…we need all of our elected officials to put America first and say collectively, we’ve got to find solutions of how to address this issue of violent crime.”

Said U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (PA-03), “The national increase in murders and gun violence that began in 2020 has created a double pandemic for the people I represent. In the House, we’ve already taken action by passing two gun reform bills: the bipartisan background check bill, and a bill to close the Charleston Loophole. But we can do more. The VICTIM Act would be a very important tool in the toolbox to reduce gun violence. In Philadelphia and across the country, we have an urgent need to solve more shooting cases and get more shooters off the streets. The bill would do three things that we all should agree on: number one, it would solve more fatal shootings and nonfatal shootings. Number two, getting more shooters off the streets. Number three, getting more help for victims of these dreadful crimes. This is common sense.”

Said National Association of Police Organizations Director of Government Affairs Andy Edmiston, “Over the past few years homicide rates have jumped nearly 40%. Police departments across the country are fighting to contain this increase in violent crime, but they are understaffed, under-resourced, and struggling to hire good, qualified officers. The VICTIM Act will help address this issue by supplying much-needed grant funding to the agencies to fill, replenish, and train their homicide detective forces. This will enable homicide to focus on solving these violent crimes and bring justice to the victims and their families.”

Said U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), “We’re seeing an unprecedented wave of gun violence billow through our communities across the country – tearing our families apart and putting our children in danger. I know the impact of gun violence firsthand as my congressional district is among the hardest-hit communities in the nation. That’s why I stood today with my colleagues at the United States Capitol – to send a message and to say that we will not stop fighting until our streets are safe. Our families are counting on us to deliver, and we are committed to ensuring we send this gun violence protection package to President Biden’s desk.”

Said National Police Foundation President Jim Burch, “This bill [The VICTIM Act] delivers three things: this bill delivers safety, this bill delivers justice, and this bill delivers accountability. That’s what our communities want, that’s what our communities need, and that’s what we intend to deliver with the strategic support provided by this bill. This bill addresses the needs of crime victims who are so deserving of a better hand, so deserving of our support, our care, and our attention…This bill delivers vital support for those in law enforcement agencies who are tasked with addressing some of the most complex, difficult cases, and bringing closure to those cases, rapidly. Not only to provide justice to the crime victims, but to prevent further violence and further carnage. There can be no more important resources made available to the law enforcement community and that’s why we wholeheartedly support the VICTIM Act.”

Said U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), former Chicago Police Department Homicide Detective, “As a young officer working in Chicago, I had to knock on the doors of too many mothers and tell them their child had been lost to an act of senseless violence. In my years as a homicide detective, my young son refused to go to bed until he knew I was home safe; I worked most nights until two in the morning. There are two sides to this coin. Officers and those they serve both want safe, supported communities and Americans deserve officers that are held to the highest standards. To achieve these goals, I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in support of our commonsense, bipartisan VICTIM Act: legislation that sets aside funding to hire, train, and keep good detectives and victim services workers to better provide the needed resources to catch criminals and keep families safe.”

Rep. Demings previously introduced the Violent Incident Clearance and Technological Investigative Methods (VICTIM) Act, legislation to help law enforcement departments close murder and violent crime cases by hiring, training, and retaining detectives and victim services personnel. Rep. Kelly is an original cosponsor of this legislation.

In 2020, the United States saw the biggest rise in murder since the start of national record-keeping in 1960. 21,570 people were murdered in the United States in 2020—the most since 1995—a 29.4% increase over 2019. Additionally, the FBI estimates that 77% of all murders in the United States in 2020 were via firearms. That is the highest share on record and the most of any year on record except 1993.

This is a release from Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s office.