NEWTON, NJ (Sussex County) — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Monday visited the Newton Police Department and highlighted new bipartisan legislation, the 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, like Newton, 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).
H.R.6448, the Invest in Law Enforcement Act will:
- 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 Invest in Law Enforcement Act has 46 co-sponsors, 17 Republicans and 29 Democrats.
The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), National Sheriff’s Association, National Troopers Coalition (NTC), New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association, New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), and New Jersey State Troopers Non-Commissioned Officers 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,” said Gottheimer, a member of the bipartisan Law Enforcement Caucus. “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,” Gottheimer said.
“Most of the police departments in Sussex County do not qualify for major funding because of their size, so now the Invest to Protect Act would relieve some of the financial burden that otherwise would be on our towns,” said Newton Police Chief Steven Van Nieuwland. “Police Departments are adapting to modern policing standards which is essential for departments to continuing being effective, but it is important that we can do so without putting a massive strain on our town budgets. I want to thank Congressman Gottheimer for addressing this gap in funding.”
“In today’s day in age, we too often hear rhetoric rather than reality about law enforcement. The Invest to Protect Act of 2022, sponsored by Congressman Gottheimer, creates a common sense approach to investing wisely in law enforcement, which will help to better law enforcement throughout the country. The NCO Association is proud to endorse this bipartisan, common sense legislation,” said Daniel Oliveira, President of the New Jersey State Troopers Non-Commissioned Officers Association.
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.