Leaders must address violence against officers

By PAUL DeMARCO | Guest Columnist

Note: This is an opinion column.

Tragically, another Alabama Police Officer was killed in the line of duty this past week. Kimberly Police Officer Nick O’Rear was shot and killed in pursuit of a suspect on Interstate 65 in Jefferson County.

Officer O’Rear’s murder followed 2019, which was one of the worst years in Alabama history as seven members of law enforcement were killed while protecting the public.

Alabama only trailed four other states in the number of officer fatalities in 2019. Across the nation, there were 135 total line of duty deaths for police officers.

This is not a statistic, but instead a terrible fact for the entire state of Alabama. In almost every circumstance, the killer should have never been on the streets. In the O’Rear case, the accused is a serial felon with a lengthy criminal history and had been arrested on 20 different occasions in the past.

Now that the Alabama Legislature is in session, this is the time for state leaders to address the revolving door of our jails and prisons.  Because of violence and overcrowding at state prisons, there will be a push to weaken, not strengthen laws to punish felons.

The public should demand nothing less than the stiffest penalties for violent felons to protect both the public and members of law enforcement.
Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives.