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So as we start the new year, of course the pandemic will continue to dominate the news.
Yet, the other underlying story that does not appear to be going away is the spike in crime across the nation. A combination of soft-on-crime lawmakers, prosecutors and judges in some parts of the United States has made it even worse.
And Alabama has not been immune. The state rate of violent crime is about 38 percent per capita above the national average. The number of murders in the largest cities in the state were up significantly from last year.
Thus, this year will state leaders tackle this problem or let it continue?
There are a number of lawmakers who are pressing forward with attempts to weaken the criminal system by ending the Alabama habitual felony act, as well as force the parole board to let out violent felons much earlier than their sentences require.
Then last year, legislation punishing any government entity that were to defund a local law enforcement agency by taking away state funding, grants, revenue, or other forms of aid was not even given an up or down vote in the Alabama Senate.
Attacks across the nation on law enforcement have hurt the morale of police and made it even harder to hire new recruits to patrol the streets. Liberal politicians have campaigned on making it more difficult to wear a badge and second guess every decision officers have to make in life and death situations.
In most conservative states dominated by Republicans, law and order legislation passes and becomes law. Surprisingly with a state as conservative as Alabama, law enforcement and prosecutors do not have as strong support in the legislative chambers as you would think. Thus, it is up to citizens to press their own state representatives and senators to block efforts to follow the trend in other states that have led to the high crime statistics.
This will be a bellwether issue for the state legislature as to whether public safety is a true priority.
If they do not, Alabama voters must hold them accountable at the ballot box.
Paul DeMarco is a native of Alabama and former member of the Alabama House of Representatives.