Dylan Roberts: Support for first responders to make our communities safer
Here in Western Colorado, we rely on our courageous first responders to keep us and our communities safe every single day.
From search and rescue teams and emergency responders to law enforcement officers to wildland firefighters, first responders are the people who run toward danger and put their lives on the line to protect our families, our homes and our lives.
That is why this legislative session, I worked to pass important bills to support first responders and ensure they have access to the critical tools and resources they need to keep us safe. The work we did this year represents the largest and most impactful investment in our state’s first responders in many years, and I am proud of what we accomplished together.
Tools and funding for firefighters
Chief among the threats heading into summer is the ever-present danger posed by increasingly severe wildfires. With fire season growing longer each year, we stepped up our support to provide firefighters the resources they need to better prepare for, mitigate and respond to catastrophic wildfires through a comprehensive package of bipartisan bills.
I sponsored legislation designed to help communities designate strategic bodies of water as fire suppression ponds to ensure that water remains available when needed to battle a blaze, and we secured major funding to better prepare fire departments and their firefighters to address wildfires. We also passed legislation to give volunteer firefighters support in their service to our communities.
Support for law enforcement
Often the first people on the scene of any incident are law enforcement officers. Working with law enforcement, including with local agencies, I crafted several bills to give the men and women in uniform the tools and resources they need to make our communities safer.
I was the lead sponsor of SB22-005, a bipartisan bill which provides major funds to expand mental health support services for law enforcement officers so that they can receive the support they need to cope with difficult on-the-job experiences and help agencies recruit and retain more officers.
I was also the lead sponsor of a bill that changed the law to ensure better enforcement of retail theft so that we can protect consumers and businesses from crime as well as legislation that cracks down on those who intimidate witnesses and victims of crime and gives our prosecutors more tools to protect victims. We also passed SB22-001, the Safer Streets Act, a bipartisan bill to fund the police and needed community safety investments.
Of course, perhaps the biggest — and almost certainly the most important — public safety issue we tackled this year is the fentanyl crisis sweeping our state. In response to this crisis, we passed a comprehensive and bipartisan bill that dramatically increases penalties for those who deal fentanyl and provides badly needed resources for addiction treatment, Narcan and more.
While this bill is not perfect — and I voted against my party for stricter penalties — it is a critical step in addressing this lethal drug’s impact on our communities and saving lives, and I am confident that the work we did will give law enforcement and communities the resources they need to stem the tide of this deadly crisis.
Bolstering emergency responders
As part of this important work to support first responders, I also fought to strengthen our state’s ability to help folks experiencing an emergency.
In rural Colorado, we face both funding and workforce challenges when it comes to ambulance and EMS services. That’s why I worked with local and statewide EMS providers to write and pass SB22-225, which modernizes and better funds our emergency services and ensures Coloradans can continue to count on strong and reliable EMS and ambulance services no matter where they live or find themselves needing help. I also led SB22-172, which will attract and retain more health care workers to rural Colorado, including EMS providers.
Search and rescue resources
Finally, our backcountry search and rescue workers and volunteers are true heroes who deserve more support. That is why I proudly co-sponsored a bill to fund search and rescue teams and give employees and volunteers alike more workplace support, benefits and resources to help them do their life saving jobs. This builds on two prior years of legislative changes and investment to better support our search and rescue teams.
As a new parent myself and as a former prosecutor, making Colorado a safer place to live has been and remains one of my key focuses at the legislature. This session made great strides to provide urgently needed support to the courageous women and men who dedicate their lives to keeping our families and communities safe. There is certainly more work to do and I welcome your thoughts and ideas anytime. My email is Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us and my cell is 970-846-3054.
Rep. Dylan Roberts serves Routt and Eagle Counties in the Colorado House of Representatives.
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