Bipartisan ‘Invest to Protect Act’ introduced in House to make critical investments in local police departments
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The bipartisan Invest to Protect Act of 2022 was being formally introduced in the House Thursday. The bill will make critical, targeted investments in local police departments and ensure that police officers in smaller communities across the country have the resources and training they need to keep themselves and their communities safe. The bipartisan bill is led by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and former sheriff Congressman John Rutherford (FL-4), with 36 other original cosponsors.
More than 95% of the nation’s local police departments have 200 officers or fewer.
The Invest to Protect Act will provide the following federal investment to small police departments:
- Investments in officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic violence response training, allowing officers to receive critical training that will make them more effective at their jobs, all without putting a strain on department budgets or reducing the number of officers on duty while others are at training by allowing investment to be used to offset overtime pay.
- Investment for body worn cameras — to hold everyone accountable — while also providing much-needed resources for data storage and data security.
- Investment for small departments to recruit new officers — helping expand departments and bringing in new, good officers. This investment can also be used by departments to provide retention bonuses to help keep their existing officers and provide investment for officers pursuing graduate degrees in public health, social work, and mental health.
- Investment for departments to provide mental health resources for their officers.
The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs’ Association, National Troopers Coalition, New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association, and New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association.
The bill led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer and John Rutherford is cosponsored by Reps. Cindy Axne; Don Bacon; Sanford Bishop Jr.; Ed Case; Steve Chabot; Jim Costa; Angie Craig; Anthony Delgado; Val Demings; Brian Fitzpatrick; Jared Golden; Jaime Herrera-Beutler; Dusty Johnson; Dave Joyce; John Katko; Susie Lee; Elaine Luria; Peter Meijer; Dan Meuser; Markwayne Mullin; Tom O’Halleran; Jimmy Panetta; Chris Pappas; Dean Phillips; Tom Reed; Kurt Schrader; Mikie Sherrill; Elissa Slotkin; Jason Smith; Abigail Spanberger; Bryan Steil; Tom Suozzi; Fred Upton; David Valadao; Filemon Vela; and Bruce Westerman.
“Cutting to the bone only weakens any profession; it pushes good people out, it diminishes the overall quality, and fuels a race to the bottom. That’s especially true in law enforcement. The only way to make a department better is to invest wisely, in training and tools, in recruiting and retaining the best talent, and ensuring they can be involved in the community. That’s how you keep families safe. In short, when it comes to law enforcement, you need to invest to protect,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), a member of the bipartisan Law Enforcement Caucus. “This legislation sends an important message: we want our police officers to feel supported, especially when they are struggling with the realities of their profession. We want them to know that we have their backs and that they are appreciated for the job they do.”
“I’ve also realized that if you want to make something better, and there’s always room for improvement, whether that’s a road or a school, you don’t get there by cutting or defunding. You need to make smart, targeted investments. In other words, you need to invest, not defund. As New York City’s new Mayor, Eric Adams, a former Police Captain, recently said, ‘I don’t subscribe to the belief of some that we can only have justice and not public safety. We will have them both.’ Adams is exactly right — we can and we will have both, thanks, in part, to the actions we are announcing today that will help ensure a safer, more just community,” Gottheimer said.
“Small police forces in rural areas often suffer from a lack of operational equipment and services,” said Congressman John Rutherford (FL-04). “That’s why we introduced the Invest to Protect Act, which creates a grant program for departments with fewer than 200 officers to support critical resources like body cameras, training, retention, and mental health care. Thank you to my colleague, Rep. Gottheimer, for leading on this important legislation.”
“Our hero law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect their communities. At a minimum, we must ensure that our officers, especially those in small departments across the country that often lack adequate funding, are provided with the training, equipment, and resources they need to work in the field safely,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1). “I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation, which will make meaningful investments in our local law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”
“New Jersey is proud to have the most professional law enforcement and first responders in the nation and many of them serve on smaller municipal forces in our local towns and communities,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11). “After years of serving on the frontlines of a deadly pandemic and in danger of facing funding cuts due to the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap imposed by the 2017 Trump tax bill, our local police forces need support to continue doing their jobs effectively and safely. This bill offers that support by providing funding for equipment like body cameras, investing in de-escalation and domestic violence response training, and bettering the mental health resources available for the local departments and officers that people interact with the most.”
Support for the bipartisan Invest to Protect Act:
“Over the last year, law enforcement officers have faced many challenges and threats to their well-being that has created a dangerous environment for those sworn to protect the public,” said Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police. “These challenges have ranged from violence against officers, an increase of violent rhetoric against them, lagging technology, recruitment and retention issues, and mental health concerns. Particularly, smaller municipalities have seen an increased strain on the men and women in blue as they attempt to uphold the rule of law. The ‘Invest to Protect Act’ would be a step in the right direction to combat these issues that plague law enforcement officers in smaller municipalities. On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I am proud to offer our support for this incredibly necessary legislation.”
“The law enforcement assistance grant programs through the Department of Justice provide invaluable resources, training, and technical assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies, keeping our communities safe. However, small agencies across the country find themselves getting left behind due to their size and lack of resources for participating in the onerous Federal grant solicitation process. The Invest to Protect Act will create a broad grant program specifically for small agencies that will give them resources to help them train their officers, implement or expand body-worn camera programs, and retain and hire officers. We thank Representative Gottheimer for his leadership and we look forward to working with him to ensure all law enforcement agencies have the support and resources necessary to serve and protect our communities,” said Bill Johnson, Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO).
“If 2022 is anything like the past two years, then it will be another tough year for law enforcement and we will need backup more than ever whether it is on patrol or in the legislative halls of government,” said Thomas Mungeer, National Troopers Coalition Chairman. “It is refreshing to see that Congressman Josh Gottheimer is demonstrating that he is willing to step up and support the men and women who don a uniform and help protect his constituents every day of the year.”
“Our state and local law enforcement all across New Jersey are critical to keeping our families and communities safe, and it’s critical that we stand up for them in return,” said New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan. “I’m proud to be supporting Congressman Gottheimer as he continues his fight to support Jersey’s law enforcement, as well as the Invest to Protect Act — to ensure local police departments have the training and resources they need.”
“The STFA is proud to stand in support of the Police Investment Act. We commend Congressman Gottheimer for his interest in and support of law enforcement. This Act provides funding for vital functions for police officers such as training and education as well as funding for necessary tools such as body worn cameras (BWC),” said New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association President Wayne Blanchard. “All of these investments are a huge win for individual police officers, police agencies, and the citizens we proudly serve.”