Crime & Public Safety - Meet the Freshmen

Crime & Public Safety

As the nation re-emerged from the pandemic, a complex picture of violent crime has also emerged.[1] Republicans made crime one of the centerpieces of their election campaigns in the midterms, virtually ensuring that crime, policing, and public safety will continue to dominate the conversation as the 118th Congress convenes.

While all Americans yearn for safer communities, the two parties have differed on their approach to the issue.  Democrats focused their energy during the last Congress on fundamentally redefining the relationship between law enforcement and communities (especially communities of color), but Republicans in the new Congress could roll back those reforms and reinstate a more adversarial stance on policing.

During a press conference unveiling their policy platform, Republican Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) announced plans to hire 200,000 new police officers.[2] Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Mike Braun (R-IN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and John Kennedy (R-LA) plan to support this priority by introducing a new grant program to enable additional hiring and  provide technical support for necessities like rape kit processing.[3]

The opioid crisis plays a role in this crackdown as well. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA-03) has said he intends to introduce a bill that would expand the US Department of Homeland Security’s authority to include investigating drugs and other controlled substances.[4]

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats are pushing a crime prevention agenda that includes additional resources for prosecuting white collar crime and bolsters support for law enforcement, seeming to move on from “defund the police” rhetoric and  other policies supported by the more progressive wing of the party.

[1] Ames Grawert & Noah Kim, “Myths and Realities: Understanding Recent Trends in Violent Crime,” Brennan Center for Justice, July 12, 2022, available at

[2] “Leader McCarthy’s Op-Ed in the New York Post: It’s Time for the Commitment to America,” Office of US Representative Kevin McCarthy Press Release, September 23, 2022, available at

[3] Jennifer Shutt, “U.S. Senate Republicans pan Democrats on crime, say they’ll introduce their own bill,” New Jersey Monitor, September 15, 2022, available at

[4] “Higgins Introduces Legislation To Combat Fentanyl, Drug Cartels,” Office of US Representative Clay Higgens Press Release, September 30, 2022, available at

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