Casey Cagle: Serve, protect, defend

Published 4:15 pm Monday, April 10, 2017

Justice, public safety, and the rule of law are three fundamental pillars of our society. The United States of America is the greatest nation the world has ever known because we protect and honor the freedoms guaranteed under our Constitution. We are free because we are safe. That’s why this year I led the fight to enact three major pieces of legislation to keep Georgia safe, just, and free.
First, I was honored to champion the Back the Badge Act to increase our state’s support for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect and serve our communities. Under this bill, we strengthened penalties for crimes committed against law enforcement. Furthermore, we acted to ensure that families of fallen officers will receive $150,000 to assist with their financial needs. Although we can never compensate a son or daughter for the loss of their mother or father, the state owes these families as much financial support as we can provide.
The Senate also passed legislation to create a commission to help increase compensation for our local police, sheriffs’ deputies, and jail officers. I refuse to accept the status quo, under which many of our law enforcement officers are struggling to make ends meet — despite risking their lives every day. Over the next year, I will diligently work with our counties, sheriffs, and police chiefs to develop solutions to pay deserving salaries and benefits to Georgia’s local law enforcement communities.
With the world’s busiest airport, the CDC, and many more high-profile and critical infrastructure targets across our state, we must be proactive in our defense against domestic terrorism. Recognizing this threat, I worked to advance the PROTECT Act to modernize our state’s homeland security systems. By providing resources, tools, and training, the PROTECT Act enables all law enforcement – local, state, and federal – to share the intelligence required to locate, intervene and stop terroristic threats.
I hope we can all agree that politics should have no role in any decision that affects the safety of our citizens. I pledge to continue working with anyone willing to pass legislation that better protects Georgia.
Finally, I proudly joined Senator John Kennedy to lead the charge for Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment that — if approved by voters — will enshrine victims’ rights in our state’s constitution, granting equal protections to those received by individuals accused and convicted of a crime. Marsy’s Law guarantees that a victim’s voice is heard during the entire judicial process, ensuring the impact of the trauma they sustained is fully understood by the court. Georgia’s voters need the opportunity to decide if we believe that victims should have the same right to be heard and considered as the criminal who committed crimes against them.
Freedom belongs to every single American — and it enables us to stay true to the deeply ingrained values we all share. Most importantly, we are united by the fact that all people are created equally under God — and therefore, each Georgian deserves life, liberty, and every opportunity to pursue happiness. To protect that freedom, we must defend against those who wish to destroy it by standing up for the rule of law and justice for all.
This week celebrates National Crime Victims’ Rights. May we always give our victims the honor, respect, and support they deserve.

Casey Cagle is Lieutenant Governor of Georgia.