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Reps. Axne, Gottheimer lead 19 House Democrats in push to support small, rural police departments

Members Urge House Leadership To Advance Bipartisan, Bicameral Invest To Protect Act to Fund Small Police Departments

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reps. Cindy Axne (IA-03) and Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05) led a letter to House Leadership urging them to bring bipartisan, bicameral legislation — H.R. 6448, the Invest to Protect Act — to the House floor to better support rural and small police departments.

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 of metrics that often do not apply to small areas.

“The only way to make a department better is to invest wisely in de-escalation and domestic violence training and essential tools, in recruiting and retaining the best talent, and to ensure they can be involved in their community,” the Members of Congress wrote in a letter to House leadership this week. “We need to ensure 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 bring this key bipartisan, bicameral, legislation to the floor.”

The Invest to Protect Act was introduced in the House of Representatives in January by Reps. Gottheimer, John Rutherford (FL-04), and a group of other bipartisan cosponsors. The House bill now has 56 total cosponsors. 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 largest Department of Justice grant programs are open to all police departments and sheriff’s offices across the U.S., pitting smaller police departments against the largest metropolitan areas when applying for funding. Between 2012 and 2018, law enforcement agencies from South Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, Iowa, and Montana applied for a total of 577 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants, but less than a third of those applications were approved.

The Invest to Protect Act would establish a grant program available to police and sheriff’s 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 personnel cost.
  • Additionally, the legislation will cut red tape by reducing overly bureaucratic reporting requirements of metrics that often do not apply to small and rural areas.

Administrative, management, and reporting requirements that rural law enforcement leaders have reported as difficult and cumbersome to keep up with often lead to police departments being unable to apply because the grants are not designed with the realities of their work.

The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs’ Association, and National Troopers Coalition.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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