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Wednesday, October 5th, 2022

House Invest to Protect Act urges $50M investment into smaller police departments

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Backed by various law enforcement organizations and bipartisan appeal, U.S. Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and John Rutherford (R-FL) – together with 36 cosponsors – introduced the Invest to Protect Act of 2022 last week to support local police.

The House bill seeks critical investments into local departments, specifically those with 200 or fewer officers – a description more than 95 percent of the nation’s local police departments fit. It would appropriate $50 million for these purposes for each year through 2026, split between four major efforts:

  1. Officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic violence response training
  2. Body cameras and data storage/security
  3. Recruitment and retention bonuses
  4. Department-led mental health resources for officers

“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,” Gottheimer said. “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,”

Smart, targeted investments are the path to balances of justice and public safety, in Gottheimer’s view. He added that the bill was not just about resources but making sure officers feel supported and appreciated. For Rutherford, it came down to even more practical considerations.

“Small police forces in rural areas often suffer from a lack of operational equipment and services,” Rutherford said.

The bill benefits from the support and endorsements of major enforcement associations, including 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.

“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,” Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, said. “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.”