The State of the County address was delivered before a live audience by Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, an event hosted by Step By Step and Farm 12 at the Germaine Korum Center this past week.
Dammeier opened his remarks by reviewing the county’s successes in 2021 and recognizing those who shared in the accomplishments, ranging from the teachers and school districts to the county health department and healthcare workers.
Following the positive observations, Dammeier spoke on the “really significant challenges” that the county was currently facing. “The challenge is that we went from a COVID-19 pandemic ravaging our community to right now, in my eyes, [we have] an epidemic of lawlessness ravaging our community. I was born and raised in Pierce County. I have never seen anything like this. I haven’t seen the level of violence. I haven’t seen the pervasiveness of crime.”
Dammeier covered many other issues, including business owners he had spoken with that have had their shops broken into several times in the same month. “I don’t know the reasons for it,” he said, “I can tell you some of the reasons I think contribute to it. I think the mental health impacts of COVID on our society are part of it. I am confident a Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized drugs is part of it. And, I believe strongly that some wrongheaded laws by our state legislature that, in my mind, emboldened our criminals and demoralized our law enforcement are part of it.”
He wrapped up the list of the challenges by saying, “…the question today is not what caused it. It’s what are we doing about it?” Among the answers, Dammeier offered were regarding public safety and replacing the many police officers that have left the area and the profession outright. “We’ve got to do everything we can to make sure that they have the tools, and we have the support for them so they can be out there helping keep our community safe.” Dammeier closed his remarks on the police staffing shortages, saying, “I can assure you that I am going to do everything within my power to keep our community safe.”