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Our community's health is suffering. Is there a doctor in the house?

The health of our community is in crisis on several fronts: crime, covid, and homelessness. Any public policy to address these issues must put people first.

Healthy communities start with each of us taking responsibility for how our actions or inactions can impact our community.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Sheriff Todd Rowell about meeting the challenges of community policing in Mesa County. Our conversations were peppered with our concerns about the direction of community enforcement policies in Colorado. Current trends that call for defunding police threaten the safety, security, and health of everyday citizens.

In 2020, our state had the dubious honor of ranking among the top for the highest increase in property crime among all 50 states. Colorado's violent crime rate in 2020 was 35% higher than in 2011 (cf., nationally the rate grew only 3%). Considering this statistic, Colorado does not need leadership that is soft on crime. Stop for a moment and ask yourself, has your quality of life improved? I think we are all beginning to realize that embracing the defund ideology has proven to be a dangerous impediment to having a great quality of life.

As former Mayor of Parker, I am and have been, a strong proponent of the rule of law. Legislatively, to have thriving communities for all Coloradans, we must have the rule of law, for the absence of this turns the quality of life on its head. The men and women in blue stand as a formative influence, in the gap between chaos and order. The current situation has left communities who are untrained to do so, to police themselves. What could go wrong? There should be an increase in funding to our law enforcement community- for the need is great and the force is stretched, stressed, and underappreciated.

Over the last three years, misguided policies and laws have failed the people of our state and have been steadily eroding our quality of life. Governor Polis is accountable for his failure in protecting the economic well-being of Colorado families and the devastating long-lasting negative impacts his executive orders had on entire communities, industries, and our environment. He wants you to believe that the pandemic and the virus are the “boogie-man” and if you don’t comply, it will get you.

Let me be clear, he is not alone on this. The elected leaders from both sides of the aisle also share the blame. The legislature showed fear of and servitude to the executive branch by not exercising their constitutional duty and stopping the onslaught of executive orders that are destroying the well-being of Coloradans. The silence was deafening, and the people will not easily forget how they were abandoned.

The homelessness crisis is another front that threatens the health of our communities. As homelessness rises, the quality of life decreases for all of us. Everyday citizens feel unsafe—they are afraid of enjoying parks and other public spaces. Nor is the current situation beneficial to the unhoused, according to the Colorado Office of the Medical Examiner, deaths of people experiencing homelessness increased by 12% over 2020 figures and by 83% over the last five years. Conversations with special services personnel have revealed a complex problem without a one size fits all solution. Possible solutions to explore are partnerships with nonprofit and charity-based programs. Whatever the course of action may be, it must represent a combination of compassion, discipline, integrity, and determination to effectively deal with this urgent societal challenge.

The community health crisis we find ourselves in will continue if we the people, all the people, don’t demand and fight for a change. The people deserve a government that is concerned about the health of the entire community. One that understands a crisis does not equal the removal of citizens’ rights. The people of Colorado need a leader who understands that any government policies that assault our basic freedoms, will not stand!

– Greg Lopez

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