In an effort to reduce crime and increase public safety, the Invest to Protect Act was introduced by a bipartisan coalition in Congress this week, dangling the possibility of increased funding for police departments to recruit and retain officers, as well as outfit them.
Announced at the start of National Police Week, the bill seeks to support smaller police departments in particular – namely, those with less than 200 officers on staff. Such departments are often left behind by existing federal police grant programs, according to U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, and he cited every police department in Michigan’s Genesee, Saginaw, Bay and Midland counties as being eligible for the new funding.
“Police are an essential pillar of our society, helping to keep our neighborhoods and families safe. Local police departments should have the funding they need to recruit, train and equip their officers,” Kildee said. “I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats this Congress to pass this bipartisan legislation to fund our police departments.”
In addition to funding for training and retention, the Invest to Protect Act would notably provide resources for mental health services and equipment such as body cameras.
Unlike the recently proposed Back the Blue Act, this legislation has also earned bipartisan support, with dozens of cosponsors in the House and identical companion legislation being introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Chuck Grassley (D-IA). The same bill advanced through both the House and Senate last year across similarly bipartisan lines, but a final agreed upon version was not voted through.
“A reintroduction of the Invest to Protect Act would most definitely benefit the Midland Police Department,” Nicole Ford, chief of police for the Midland Police Department, said. “As a smaller department of just 50 sworn personnel and two non-sworn support staff, we have an extremely limited budget for ‘niceties’ in the areas of recruitment, retention, and mental health services. In addition to increasing retention rates, additional mental health focused resources under this legislation could be a real draw for individuals wishing to fulfill their dream of a law enforcement career. A department which builds and maintains an environment of mental health awareness, fosters acceptance and provides available treatment resources ultimately results in better overall health of its officers. It cannot be denied that truly healthy officers provide superior law enforcement services for the communities they serve.”
Outside the halls of Congress, the bill has been backed by such organizations as the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Tactical Officers Coalition, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the National Troopers Coalition.