Sheriffs Respond to President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


National Sheriffs’ Association and Major County Sheriffs’ Association released the following statement in response to President Obama’s address to Congress:

“While we were pleased San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon and other law enforcement and first responder officials were guests at this evening’s State of the Union address, we are concerned that President Obama did not address challenges desperately needing his attention to improve public safety and support law enforcement personnel.

“The President didn’t offer specific improvement to the mental health care challenges in our nation’s jails. In the wake of de-institutionalization of the mentally ill, the number of people suffering serious mental illness in jails and prisons is now 10 times the number receiving treatment in state psychiatric hospitals. 

“The President and Congress must reexamine Medicaid eligibility rules that deprive low-income, mentally ill individuals of desperately needed psychiatric care and condemn them to a dangerous pattern of recidivism. At the very least, the President and Congress should implement a pilot program that would continue Medicaid benefits for inmates so that, upon release, they can seamlessly continue to receive psychiatric aftercare and psychotropic medications. 

“Additionally, the President failed to address the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s unclear Priority Enforcement Program that leaves sheriffs and communities vulnerable to dangerous criminal aliens released back to the streets. President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) need to define where probable cause exists to arrest an illegal immigrant for a violation of law. 

“The President should have announced a plan for DHS to share information more effectively with state and local law enforcement and to broaden the eligibility categories for deportation.  At the same time, Congress and the President owe it to local taxpayers to increase the reimbursement for state and local agencies that house criminal aliens on behalf of the federal government.

“Lastly, the President should have rescinded his executive order that seized needed excess military equipment from more than a dozen communities and left them less prepared to help citizens hurt by natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and active shooter situations.

“The President has one year left to strengthen law enforcement capabilities and address the concerns of America’s sheriffs. Unfortunately, he didn’t do so tonight.”