Weekly Columns

In Arkansas, our law enforcement history runs deep. Take my hometown of Fort Smith for example where the U.S. Marshals Service played an integral part in shaping the city’s unique role in our country’s westward expansion and many people in the area today find their family roots trace back to a U.S. Marshal.  From an early age we were taught about Judge Isaac Parker’s efforts to bring order to Indian Territory, and great lawmen like Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves helped lay the foundation that highlighted Fort Smith’s chapter in the history of the U.S. Marshals Service.  

The Marshals’ storied history in Fort Smith inspired the great novel and movie True Grit.  The legacy of Bass Reeves and other U.S. Marshals in Arkansas is so deep that the Marshal Service selected Fort Smith to be the home of a national museum honoring more than two centuries of heroic, brave men and women who served to uphold the law. 

That tradition continues today in communities throughout Arkansas. At every level, we are blessed to have some of the finest men and women in law enforcement. 

I recently delivered that message to the graduating class of the School of Law Enforcement Supervision (SLES) at Arkansas’s Criminal Justice Institute.  SLES is a mid-level management school for law enforcement supervisors and one of the premiere programs the Institute offers.  It was an honor to be surrounded by men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting others.  

The training the graduates completed at the SLES will help them excel as leaders in their departments.  Spending four months immersed in research on subjects ranging from ethics to stress management to media relations to complete their required studies is a testament to their commitment to their communities. 

Meanwhile, we in Washington can, and should be doing more to help them keep our communities safe. 

I was a long-time member of the House Law Enforcement Caucus and continue those efforts in the Senate.  I joined 18 of my colleagues in launching the first ever U.S. Senate Law Enforcement Caucus.  

Our goal is to educate and inform our colleagues and their staffs about the programs and initiatives that are keeping our communities safe, while advocating for the policies and resources law enforcement agencies need to carry out their missions.  

Working with the law enforcement community, we will highlight ways the federal government can better assist agencies at the state and local levels. This will help circulate best practices in administering law enforcement programs during a time of severely limited budgets. 

For instance, in the Senate Commerce Committee we have been studying ways to improve forensic sciences to help police investigations. With the exception of DNA analysis, no forensic method has been demonstrated, with a high degree of certainty, to establish a direct link between the evidence and a specific individual.  So what we want to do, in working with the scientific, legal and law enforcement communities, is reform the justice system simply by leveraging existing initiatives to promote better techniques.  I believe we can foster improvements in forensic science without re-inventing the wheel. 

We really are blessed that our communities have such dedicated law enforcement personnel serving us in Arkansas. That’s something we are all grateful for.