Fri. Jun 18th, 2021

A recent poll shows eight in 10 Maine people have a positive view of law enforcement. The same poll showed 88 percent of Mainers feel that addressing the shortage of officers in our state is a priority.

A recent poll shows eight in 10 Maine people have a positive view of law enforcement. The same poll showed 88 percent of Mainers feel that addressing the shortage of officers in our state is a priority. This support is well founded.

Maine is in the midst of five consecutive years during which the crime rate has dropped significantly. Violent crimes occur here at one quarter of the national rate. In contrast to what one sees in media from other states, we live in one of the safest places in the U.S. — thanks to our law enforcement personnel.

“Any large group of people is apt to have a few bad apples,” said Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, a retired state trooper with 23 years experience. “I know from personal and professional experience that the bad actions of a few in law enforcement are dealt with appropriately. There is no reason to make Maine less safe by passing unnecessary laws to solve non-existent problems.”

Sen. Davis

With a number of bills in the Legislature this session designed to weaken or simply attack law enforcement, it is not clear whether elected representatives in Augusta are following the will of their constituents.

Take, for example, the testimony on LD 214, a bill to eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement officers. This bill has exposed the misunderstanding that many people have in believing police officers are immune from prosecution. This is simply not the case, yet many who testified argued otherwise.

Well-intentioned but misinformed citizens provided testimony demonstrating how deeply many feel, but also how mistaken they are. These statements included, “No officer or department has ever been accountable for any of their actions,” and police are “fully protected” by the statute. A representative of the Sierra Club, claimed police officers are “allowed to violate laws with impunity.” Without evidence to support the claim, he stated, “There have undoubtedly been hundreds of examples of excessive use of force” in Maine.

The conviction of a police officer in the much-covered Minnesota case recently is a useful example. While qualified immunity is on the books in that state, he was held accountable and convicted on all charges, including murder because he acted beyond the scope of his duties.

This bill and others like it will make Maine less safe and a less attractive place for both visitors and those seeking to relocate permanently. Rather than jumping on the national anti-police bandwagon by creating harmful, unnecessary new laws, most Mainers recognize the relative safety of their home state and are grateful for the law enforcement personnel who have helped make it so.

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