Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve our communities. They deserve our respect and appreciation. Police work is one of the most dangerous and under-appreciated jobs in today’s society. It requires courage, dedication, and a willingness to risk personal safety for the betterment of others.

Across the country and in North Carolina, we continue to see reports of police officers being berated, assaulted, and killed in the line of duty. All the while, we’re dealing with a few weak prosecutors who are putting criminals back on the streets and causing crime rates to continue increasing. As some politicians are calling to “defund the police,” North Carolina and other states are fighting major staffing shortages. We must defend the police and do more to recruit and retain good cops.

In North Carolina, we pride ourselves on being the nation’s most military friendly state. Just last year, the Republican-led General Assembly passed a bill that eliminates state income taxes on the retirement pay for military veterans. The legislation was aimed at keeping these valuable citizens in our communities and recruiting more veterans to move here. It’s time we do the same for law enforcement.

That’s why I have filed HB 14, also known as the Back the Blue Act, which takes an important first step towards eliminating state income taxes on retirement pay received by members of law enforcement with at least 5 years of service in North Carolina. This legislation will help ensure law enforcement officers feel respected and appreciated for the vital role they play in keeping us safe. It will also help us to recruit and retain good officers.

My goal in authoring this legislation is to support law enforcement with a new retirement benefit that can also be used to recruit officers to come from other states and to continue developing homegrown talent right here in North Carolina.

Since first elected, I’ve been on a mission to make our state the best place to live, work, and raise a family. In order to accomplish this mission, we must strengthen the blue line that keeps our communities safe. As the Back the Blue Act makes its way through the legislative process, we’re going to need every law enforcement officer in the state to partner with us, to spread the word of this important legislation, and to advocate for its passage. Together, we can make it happen.