AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — U.S Rep. Ronny Jackson – Texas District 13 visited Amarillo Fire Station No. Five on Wednesday to hear the concerns of local first responders.
During his visit, Jackson said many of the concerns affecting fire crews and police right now revolve around drugs, which he said are crossing our southern border, particularly fentanyl.
“It’s a horrible, horrible drug that can kill you with a single dose unintentionally. But it can also kill paramedics, firefighters, police officers that are responding to this thing. So, it’s a big danger for them as well,” he said. “Not to mention the crime that’s involved with it.”
Jackson blamed the Biden administration, saying they are ignoring the issue.
“This administration doesn’t care about what’s going on at our southern border right now, and it’s leading to problems all over this country,” Jackson said, “including the problems that we talked about here today, with crime and mental health.”
Jackson also pointed to a shortage of mental health providers to help.
“We really have to look at why people are in this situation, and we have to clean it up. But in the process, we have to do everything we can to give them the resources in access to the mental health professionals that they need,” said Jackson.
That’s a need echoed by first responders as well.
“I would really like to see some more clinicians and more people made available to firefighters, police EMS for mental health,” said Mark Mendez, the secretary of Amarillo Professional Firefighters Local 542. “We are short-handed a lot of times, so people work long hours, more hours, a lot of overtime. And eventually, you just get burnout. We also see a lot of things that most humans aren’t meant to see, and we have to deal with that in our own ways.”
Jackson also said on top of bolstering temporary housing programs and providing job training, there needs to be more consequences for violent crime related to drug use.
“If these people are arrested and just turned over, you know, released right back into the community, or if the police officers don’t arrest these people because they’re scared to do their job, because the Democrats are trying to take qualified immunity away from them. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t, that leads to increased crime,” said Jackson.
AFD Captain Cody Snyder said he appreciates Jackson visiting to hear their needs, especially at the hazmat station.
“A lot of funding for the equipment, the monitors, the stuff we need for hazmat and our rescue teams and stuff like that, a lot of that financially is supported through the federal level,” said Snyder. “So, it’s really good that he gets out here and gets to see all that.”
Jackson said his staff from his Washington, D.C. and Wichita Falls offices are in Amarillo with him, to get to know the Panhandle and its needs.
“I want those people, everybody here in the Amarillo area to meet my staff in DC to develop a relationship with them, so they can pick the phone up, call them, and we can, you know, fix what’s broken around here,” he added.