NEW JERSEY — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Monday announced new bipartisan legislation, the Invest in Law Enforcement Act, also known as Invest to Protect Act, to make critical, targeted investments in local police departments and ensure that police officers in smaller towns across Northern New Jersey and nationwide have the resources and training they need to keep themselves and our communities safe. The bipartisan bill’s lead Republican cosponsor is former sheriff, Congressman John Rutherford (FL-4).
The Invest in Law Enforcement Act includes provisions to:
- Invest in officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic violence response training, to allow officers to receive critical training that will make them more effective at their jobs, 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.
- Allocate resources for body worn cameras — to hold everyone accountable — while also providing much-needed funding for data storage and data security.
- Provide grants for small departments to recruit new officers — helping expand departments and bringing in new, good officers. It will also provide retention bonuses to help departments keep their existing officers and provide investment for officers pursuing graduate degrees in public health, social work, and mental health.
- Provide critical resources for departments to provide mental health resources for their officers.
The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Troopers Coalition (NTC), and the New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association.
“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.” Gottheimer said. “Overall, this is about investing in the brave men and women in our departments — in their careers, their well-being, and their futures. That will make our communities safer. This legislation will provide critical financial support for recruitment, training, and mental health. And it 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.
“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 joining Congressman Gottheimer today as he continues his fight to support Jersey’s law enforcement and as he introduces the Invest in Law Enforcement 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. ”
“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,” Thomas Mungeer, National Troopers Coalition Chairman. “It is refreshing to see that Congresswoman 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.
“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 in Law Enforcement 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.”
This new bipartisan legislation builds on work Gottheimer has already done to help ensure that small town police departments are eligible for critical federal investment. This past year, Gottheimer’s provision was signed into law to help identify disparities between smaller departments and larger departments in the LESO/1033 program — a federal initiative that delivers equipment sitting idly and that might otherwise be destroyed to local first responders.
Gottheimer has also been involved in bipartisan police reform discussions with Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, and with law enforcement.