This letter to the editor was recently published in the Washington Observer-Reporter:
As evidenced by horrific tragic events recently, both law enforcement and people of color in our country face difficult times. There is much work to do.
That being said, our only line of defense against chaos is our law enforcement community. Even in the best of times, to say the job is difficult and demanding is an understatement. The rights of citizens must be considered while law and order is maintained. Does law enforcement accomplish this without fault on occasion? Obviously not. However, are the majority of officers striving to do the right thing even under the most difficult of circumstances? I would say, absolutely yes. We cannot be complacent – the concerns and needs of all people in our county need to be recognized and addressed.
We must re-evaluate whether or not we are providing adequate resources for the law-enforcement community to do such a difficult job, and in my opinion we are not. There needs to be a more conscious effort to support our police.
Of the 53 municipalities in Beaver County, only 34 are able to fund their own police departments. Nineteen are covered by virtue of joint ventures and over 30 departments employ part-time officers, many of whom are making such a low hourly wage that they have to work between two or three municipalities to make a living, and frequently have no benefits.
There are a number of legitimate options available to satisfy both the needs of officers as well as our citizens, but I see little if any innovative progress toward that goal. We are in dire need of innovative legislative action, actions that fund consistent universal training, equipment, a higher standard of living, and programs within the community to promote dialogue between police departments and the community. These options cannot be achieved by unrealistic proposals like eliminating real estate taxes without a realistic and legitimate option to sustain funding.
Editor’s note: Rossi is the Democratic candidate for state representative for the 15th Legislative District, which includes parts of Washington County.