Tuesday, House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Chairman August Pfluger (R-TX) held a joint subcommittee hearing with Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Management and Technology. The hearing commemorated National Police Week and examined the state of U.S. law enforcement and how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) engages with state and local authorities across America to fight crime and terrorism, as well as prepare for disaster response.
Odessa, Texas Police Chief Michael Gerke testified before the subcommittee and took questions from members of the committee on the current state of law enforcement in Odessa.
Download highlights of the hearing, Rep. Pfluger’s opening statement, Chief Gerke’s testimony, and photos here. Read more below.
In his opening statement, Rep. Pfluger highlighted Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke, who served as a witness, and Midland County Sheriff David Criner and his wife Judy, who joined the audience. Pfluger remarked: “Unfortunately, I think we’ve forgotten what it means to support our men and women in law enforcement who serve our communities every day—all of whom are real-life heroes… It is important that our nation must restore a sense of appreciation for the men and women who wear the uniform, who protect our communities, and who have been willing to sacrifice their own lives for the betterment of their communities.”
Pfluger also spoke about the dangers of the defund the police movement sweeping the Nation by saying: “Extreme budget cuts, rogue legal reforms, and the media bias against law enforcement have resulted in significant recruitment and retention challenges for state and local law enforcement agencies across the country. These factors are not only preventing law enforcement from carrying out their duties to protect Americans, but they are also impeding police agencies across the homeland from having the resources to further train their officers and prevent other mishaps.”
Chief Gerke testified about the persistent challenges facing law enforcement agencies in the Permian Basin, saying: “The most persistent challenge does not involve crime per se. It involves the resources needed to fight crime, namely personnel. Like many law enforcement agencies across America, the Odessa Police Department is significantly short of Police Officers.” He also highlighted the rising drug problem as well as a recent joint information-sharing initiative between the Odessa Police Department and the Midland Police Department.
Other witnesses included Sheriff Don Barnes of Orange County, California Sheriff’s Department, Commissioner Michael Cox of Boston, Massachusetts Police Department, and Rafael A. Mangual the Senior Fellow and Head of Research, Policing & Public Safety Initiative, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.