Thank your local law enforcement officers

By Sen. Curt VanderWall
35th Senate District

National Police Week is May 12 – May 18. Every year, people across the country come together to celebrate and thank law enforcement officers for everything they do and everything they have sacrificed. This is an important tradition, as these women and men give so much to make our communities safe places to live. They deserve our gratitude every day, especially during this special time.

Law enforcement needs not only our thanks but also our support. I’ve always respected the officers serving our communities in what are very dangerous jobs. But during my time as a county commissioner and small business owner, I gained a new understanding of what police officers go through daily to protect us.

I have carried those experiences with me to the state Legislature. At all levels of government, our law enforcement officers depend on us to be strong partners so they have the tools they need to be successful. It is truly a privilege for me to be a part of that process.

Our fight against illegal drugs is a good example of government supporting and working with law enforcement to make our families safer.

At one time, Michigan-based production of methamphetamine was a major problem, with stories of dangerous meth labs appearing in the news regularly. But by working together with law enforcement and our pharmacies, we have significantly reduced the amount of meth made here. Today, law enforcement reports that meth found in Michigan is primarily smuggled into our country and state from Mexico.

How was this reduction accomplished? To stop criminals from buying large quantities of cold and allergy medicines at the drug store and using them to create meth, Michigan lawmakers and pharmacists joined together to use the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) database system. NPLEx provides law enforcement the ability to spot and stop illegal purchases — before criminals can make large amounts of the drug that has proven to be so damaging to family members and friends caught in the web of addiction.

The Legislature has also made it illegal for criminals to pay others to purchase these medicines on their behalf, a process called smurfing. This is yet another tool our law enforcement community uses to limit local meth labs.

Make no mistake, we still have much work to do fighting illegal drugs like meth and the abuse of prescription drugs. But I am proud of the positive results our police officers have achieved in limiting local meth production, and I am fully committed to continuing to work with and support them as they do their jobs.

National Police Week is our chance to say thank you to the men and women working to keep Northern Michigan safe for our families, and it is a time to honor officers who have given their lives in the pursuit of safety and justice. If you see an officer this week, be sure to say hello and give thanks.

This article appeared in the May 18 edition of the Traverse City Record Eagle. Senator Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington, is vice chairman of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. He serves the residents of the 35th Senate District, representing the counties of Benzie, Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Ogemaw, Osceola, Roscommon and Wexford. He can be reached at 517-373-1725 or SenCVanderWall@senate.michigan.gov.