Reps. Axne and Gottheimer lead 19 House Democrats to support small, rural police departments
Representatives Cindy Axne (IA-03) and Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05) led a letter to House leadership urging them to bring bipartisan, bicameral legislation – HR 6448, the Invest to Protect Act – to the House to better support rural areas and small police services.
The bipartisan Invest to Protect Act would create a new grant program to invest in local police departments that have fewer than 200 officers. Grants would be available for officer training, recruitment and other personnel costs, as well as body cameras and other equipment. The legislation will also reduce excessive reporting requirements on measures that often do not apply to small areas.
“The only way to improve a service is to invest wisely in the training and tools essential to de-escalation and domestic violence, in recruiting and retaining top talent, and ensuring they can be involved in their community, members of Congress wrote in a letter to House leaders this week. “We must ensure that our officers and police departments have all the tools they need to fight crime and protect themselves and our families… For these reasons, we urge you to introduce this bipartisan and bicameral legislation key.
The Invest to Protect Act was introduced in the House of Representatives in January by Representatives Gottheimer, John Rutherford (FL-04) and a group of other bipartisan cosponsors. The House bill now has 56 total co-sponsors. The Senate Companion was introduced in March and led by Senators Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Grassley (R-IA), Warnock (D-GA) and Cassidy (R-NJ).
The letter was signed by Reps. Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Ed Case (HI-01), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Jim Costa (CA-16), Susie Lee (NV-03), Lou Correa (CA-46), Mike Levin (CA-49), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Kim Schrier (WA – 08), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Dean Phillips (MN-03), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) and Darren Soto (FL-09).
Currently, two of the Justice Department’s largest grant programs are open to all police departments and sheriff’s offices in the United States, pitting smaller police departments against larger metropolitan areas when applying for funding. Between 2012 and 2018, law enforcement agencies in South Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, Iowa, and Montana applied for a total of 577 community-oriented policing grants ( COPS), but less than a third of these requests have been approved.
The Invest to Protect Act would establish a grant program available to police and sheriff departments with fewer than 200 officers for a variety of investments, including:
- Safety, de-escalation, domestic violence response and other types of training
- Officer recruitment and retention, including signing and retention bonuses
- Mental Health Resources for Officers
- Body cameras, secure storage and other equipment
- Overtime and staff costs.
- In addition, the legislation will reduce red tape by reducing overly bureaucratic reporting requirements for measures that often do not apply to small rural areas.
Administrative, management and reporting requirements that rural law enforcement officials have reported as difficult and onerous to meet often result in police departments not being able to apply because grants are not designed with the realities of their work.
The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Association of Sheriffs and the National Coalition of Soldiers.
Read the full letter sent by members here:
Dear Chairman Pelosi, Chief McCarthy, Chairman Nadler and Ranking Member Jordan:
During the State of the Union address, President Biden stood before Congress and said, “We should all agree: the answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them. Fund them with resources and training. We strongly support the President’s words and leadership and welcome the more than 10% increase in funding for state and local law enforcement in the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriation Bill. We are writing to ask the House to introduce legislation in the coming months to equip our local police departments and their personnel with new resources to keep our communities and officers safe and to invest in our officers.
As national crime rates rise, including homicides, carjackings and assaults, now is the time to support local law enforcement by passing common-sense bipartisan, bicameral legislation. Cutting to the bone only weakens any profession; it pushes good people away, lowers overall quality, and fuels a race to the bottom. This is especially true in law enforcement. The only way to improve a service is to invest wisely in training and essential tools for de-escalation and domestic violence, in recruiting and retaining top talent, and ensuring they can be involved. in their community. We need to ensure that our officers and police services have all the tools they need to fight crime and protect themselves and our families.
HR 6448, the Invest to Protect Act, is bipartisan, bicameral legislation that congressional leaders are expected to introduce. This legislation is strongly supported and endorsed by national, state and local law enforcement and unions, and funds the critical needs of our local police departments. A Senate Companion was recently introduced by Senators Cortez-Masto, Grassley, Warnock and Cassidy. It ensures that our local, rural, and smaller police departments receive a fair chance at grants that support hiring, training, body cameras, and more.
Now is the time to send a clear message that we support investing in our women and men in blue. For these reasons, we urge you to introduce this key bipartisan and bicameral legislation in the coming months. To make our communities safer, build a future with less crime, and save lives, we must not defund – instead, we must invest to protect.