NEW JERSEY — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer Friday announced the introduction of the bipartisan, bicameral Invest to Protect Act.
The bipartisan Invest to Protect Act — led by Gottheimer, former Sheriff Rep. John Rutherford (FL-4), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. Steven Horsford (NV-4), and retired NYPD detective Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (NY- 4) — will make critical, targeted investments in small and midsize police departments with fewer than 200 sworn officers for the recruitment, retention, mental health support, and training they need to protect themselves and their communities. 94% of U.S. police departments have under 100 sworn officers and these smaller departments make up the majority of those in North Jersey.
The bipartisan legislation will be formally introduced in the coming days and already has 50 original cosponsors. In the Senate, identical companion legislation is being introduced by Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
Last year, the bipartisan Invest to Protect Act passed the House with 360 votes, including 153 Republicans. The Senate also passed a version of the legislation last year, but the final agreed upon bill was not voted on.
The bipartisan, bicameral Invest to Protect Act of 2023 will:
- Invest in officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic violence response training, allowing officers to receive critical training that will make them even more effective at their jobs;
- Create grants for small departments to recruit and retain new officers, to help keep their existing officers and recruit new ones;
- Allow departments to provide mental health resources for their officers; and,
- Authorize $50,000,000 of existing funding per year for 5 years for local police departments.
Statistics on crime, police shortages, and officer mental health:
- In New Jersey, deadly shootings are up 30% since the beginning of the pandemic and in Bergen County there has been a more than 50% increase in car thefts in the last year.
- FBI data on hate crimes shows a nearly 12% increase in incidents, with nearly 65% being racially motivated.
- Police departments saw 47% more resignations and nearly 20% more retirements in 2022 compared to 2019. There has been a sharp decline in the number of applicants to police academies.
- According to a recent study, the rate of PTSD among police officers increased by nearly 30% from January 2020 to April 2021.
The bipartisan Invest to Protect Act is endorsed by the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the New Jersey FOP, the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association (NJSPBA), the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), the National Troopers Coalition (NTC), the New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association, the Port Authority PBA, Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), the NJ State Troopers Non-Commissioned Officers Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the National Tactical Officers Coalition, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
“The bipartisan Invest to Protect Act will make critical investments in our departments and ensure that our police officers in smaller towns across Northern New Jersey, and our nation, have the resources and training they need to keep themselves and communities safe, said Gottheimer, a member of the bipartisan Law Enforcement Caucus. “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. You must invest, not defund. You can have both justice and public safety. You don’t have to pick between one or the other. Today’s bipartisan legislation will help ensure we have both, and protect our communities and officers.”
“Last Congress, the House passed the bipartisan Invest to Protect Act to help small law enforcement agencies with their recruiting and retention, training, and improving officer well-being,” said Congressman John Rutherford (FL-4), retired sheriff. “As a former sheriff myself, I know the difference this funding can make and I see the challenges smaller agencies face when trying to navigate the federal grant process. I am eager to again work with Representative Gottheimer on passing our bill that will streamline the grant process for smaller law enforcement agencies and provide valuable resources to our officers.”
“Small and mid-size police departments are essential to protecting communities across Nevada and the country; that is why we need to give them the tools to prevent crime before it happens. Investments in crime prevention and violence interruption programs, after-school programs, and mental health resources will be complemented by these increased resources for these departments. The partnerships that can be built between communities and police will help make all of our communities safer and make our criminal justice system fairer and more accountable for all. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to advance this bill and others that invest in smart solutions and improve accountability because we all should agree bad policing should have no place in any community,” said Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-4), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“As a retired NYPD Detective, I know how difficult the job of policing is and I am committed to marshaling the full resources of the federal government to support America’s law enforcement professionals in carrying out their mission to serve the public,” said Congressman Anthony D’Esposito (NY-4), retired NYPD detective. “The Invest to Protect Act is one way Congress is working to provide law enforcement agencies with an expanded toolkit of training options and mental health resources for their personnel, and I am proud to co-sponsor this crucial piece of legislation.”
Support for the bipartisan, bicameral Invest to Protect Act:
“Congressman, I want to thank you for championing this bill. In my 30 plus years of being a practitioner, along the years we’ve found out there has not been funding for us to have the various programs as well as funding to deal with the issue of mental health in our law enforcement community,” said Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton. “I want to thank you for this bill and thank you for all you’ve done for the law enforcement community, the first responder community, and we truly appreciate it. “As always, I know you got our back.”
“It’s critical that we stand up for local and state law enforcement all across New Jersey so we can keep our families and communities safe. I’m proud to support Congressman Josh Gottheimer and his bipartisan Invest to Protect Act to ensure local police departments have the training and resources they need,” said New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan. “Congressman Gottheimer’s advocacy for first responders does not just help North Jersey — he fights for officers throughout the country.”
“Over the last few years, law enforcement officers have faced many challenges and threats to their well-being that have created a dangerous environment for those sworn to protect the public. These challenges have ranged from violence against officers, an increase in violent rhetoric against them, lagging technology, recruitment and retention issues, and mental health concerns. Smaller municipalities are experiencing increased strain on the men and women in blue. We believe that the “Invest to Protect Act” can help our nation’s smaller agencies and departments combat these issues that plague law enforcement officers in smaller municipalities and help these same smaller agencies recruit new officers and retain experienced personnel,” said National Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes.
“The Department of Justice’s law enforcement assistance grant programs provide much-needed resources, training, and technical assistance to many state and local law enforcement agencies. However, small agencies across the country are getting left behind due to their inability to complete 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 easier access to 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 National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) Executive Director Bill Johnson.
“Our nation is suffering from a surge in crime and a plunge in the confidence in police. This Bill so perfectly addresses both issues by providing positive support to the men and women on the front lines who are directly responsible for combating crime, while building trust with the public and earning the confidence of all communities that we serve in,” said New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association President Wayne Blanchard. “The funding mechanisms in this Bill provide essential components to our police officers, especially in financially challenged agencies, for enhanced training in multiple operational and interpersonal aspects of policing. This Bill accounts for the costs of training so that agencies are left with no reason to not put the best trained police officers out in communities. The funding will also assist officers in investing in themselves to become more well-rounded police officers, by providing education incentive assistance and mental health support. Finally, it provides funding for agencies to acquire public confidence building infrastructure, such as body worn cameras, a tool our troopers have been utilizing since late 2015.”
“The National Troopers Coalition, representing 42000 state troopers across the country, is pleased to support this bipartisan initiative to provide law enforcement agencies of all sizes and scope the resources necessary to keep communities safe across our country. We look forward to working with Rep. Gottheimer and his colleagues towards enactment of the Invest to Protect Act,” said Chairman of the National Troopers Coalition Nate Johnson.
“The State Troopers NCO Association strongly supports Congressman Gottheimer’s Invest to Protect Act, as it takes the common sense approach of supporting law enforcement with necessary training to ensure that Police Officers are fully equipped to handle every situation they encounter. We thank Congressman Gottheimer for his continued support and willingness to find logical solutions to bring together the public and those sworn to protect and serve them,” said New Jersey State Troopers Non-Commissioned Officers Association President Daniel Oliveira.
“Unfortunately, while it’s no secret that crime is out of control across our great nation, it’s critical that Congress finally and adequately invest in law enforcement and its needs to keep communities safe. The Gottheimer legislation would provide the necessary resources for recruitment, retention, equipment and mental health services needed for their success and ultimately the safety and well-being of our communities,” said National Sheriffs’ Association Government Affairs Committee Chair and Collin County Texas Sheriff Jim Skinner.
“Improving public safety is a universal priority across law enforcement and is equally important in every locality in the U.S., from the smallest of towns to the largest metropolitan areas,” said President Vincent Vallelong of the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association. “That is why the federal government must ensure that smaller communities are not disadvantaged when it comes to applying for and receiving federal grant funds for hiring and training police officers and improving recruitment and retention efforts. We appreciate Rep. Gottheimer’s continued leadership on the ‘Invest to Protect Act’ and other issues of importance to the law enforcement community.”
“On behalf of the National Tactical Officers Association and its over 40,000 members nationwide, I commend Rep. Gottheimer for introducing The Invest To Protect Act of 2023 and strongly support this important legislation. By directing needed support and assistance to local law enforcement departments, this bill serves as a significant step forward in strengthening our nation’s communities by providing vital training and resources to the law enforcement officers who serve those communities that they are sworn to protect,” said National Tactical Officers Association Executive Director Thor Eells.
“On behalf of PORAC and the more than 78,000 public safety officers we serve, we are proud to be a strong supporter of the Invest to Protect Act – a meaningful piece of bipartisan legislation that would authorize $50 million a year for a new grant program for police departments with fewer than 200 officers,” said PORAC President Brian Marvel. “PORAC has been calling for increased grant funding to support our nation’s law enforcement profession for years. Especially with the challenges our state and nation are facing today as a result of rising crime and violence, difficulties in recruiting and retaining officers, and decades of underfunding public safety, investments in our local law enforcement agencies are needed now more than ever.”