After years ‘Defund the Police’ calls, Stein joins federal law enforcement support letter

Attorney General Josh Stein briefs media from the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. Photo via N.C. Dept. of Public Safety

RALEIGH — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has joined a letter urging Congress to pass the Public Safety Officer Support Act of 2022.  

“As attorneys general, ensuring that public safety officials have the support they need is a top priority of ours,” the letter reads. “We write today to request that Congress work expeditiously to pass S.3635, the Public Safety Officer Support Act of 2022, as a significant step toward ensuring public safety officers and their families are supported in the event of a death or disability resulting from the trauma inherent in their profession.” 

The letter, sent to congressional house and senate leaders of both parties, was signed by 53 attorneys general, 20 of which are Republicans.  

The letter comes after several years of calls to “Defund the Police” by Democrats and their allies in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests and costly riots in North Carolina and across the country sparked by the death of George Floyd. With the midterms approaching, Democrats have attempted to distance themselves from their past support of the Defund movement. 

“The legislation addresses gaps in support for public safety officers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with the high-risk nature of their jobs,” according to Stein’s press release. The Act also defines work-related PTSD as a “line-of-duty” injury for eligible officers, those disabled due to attempted suicide and lets families of officers who have died due to “trauma-linked suicide” to be eligible for death benefits. 

“Most people instinctively run away from a crisis,” Stein said in a press release. “Public safety officers take a job that requires them to run straight into one. The job is not only dangerous, but it’s also incredibly stressful. We owe it to them to provide the care they need to continue to safely protect our communities. I urge Congress to pass this legislation and help protect the officers who protect us.” 

According to Stein’s release, the letter was endorsed by the American Psychological Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National Association of Police Organizations, Sergeants Benevolent Association, National Sheriffs Association, Blue H.E.L.P, the National Border Patrol Council, and the United States Capitol Police Labor Committee. 

Stein faced criticism heading into his 2020 reelection bid for remaining relatively silent on the violent riots that happened in Raleigh and cities across the state that summer.  Alternatively, on the issue of the January 6 Capitol protest, Stein issued a statement that he would “do everything in his power” to seek out and “hold accountable” those who were involved. 

Neither Stein nor Gov. Roy Cooper has publicly denounced the “Defund the Police” movement. While 2024 is still a ways off, speculation in political circles points to Stein being likely to pursue becoming Cooper’s successor in 2024. 

2020 saw 264 federal, state, military, tribal, and local law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), that was the highest number of officer deaths of since 1974 and represented an increase of 96 percent from 2019. 

That trend continued into 2021. Per the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), 59 police officers were killed in the line of duty in the nine months spanning Jan. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2021, representing a 51 percent increase in police officers killed compared to the same period in 2020. 

“Nationally, 60,105 law enforcement officers were assaulted while performing their duties in 2020. These assaults were reported to the FBI by 9,895 law enforcement agencies,” according to the FBI. “Based on these reports, there were 4,071 more officers assaulted in 2020 than the 56,034 assaults reported in 2019.” 

The National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) says its data for this year shows that 101 officers have been shot in the line of duty with 17 fatalities as of April 1. The FOP says that’s a 43 percent increase in officers shot in the line of duty compared to the same time period in 2021 and a 63 percent increase compared to 2020. 

The FOP also says ambush-style attacks have increased this year citing 19 such attacks; a 36% increase from 2021. In those 19 ambush attacks, 32 officers were shot, killing five. 

About A.P. Dillon 658 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_