RELEASE: Bipartisan “Invest to Protect Act” Introduced in House to Make Critical Investments in Local Police Departments

Jan 20, 2022
Press

Gottheimer, Rutherford leading new bipartisan bill to invest in training, body cameras, mental health resources, recruitment & retention. Focused on smaller police departments. 38 original cosponsors — split between Democrats & Republicans. Endorsed by law enforcement organizations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, January 20, 2022, the bipartisan Invest to Protect Act of 2022 is being formally introduced in the House. The bill will make critical, targeted investments in local police departments and ensure that police officers in smaller communities across the country have the resources and training they need to keep themselves and their communities safe. The bipartisan bill is led by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and former sheriff Congressman John Rutherford (FL-4), with 36 other original cosponsors.

More than 95% of the nation’s local police departments have 200 officers or fewer.

The Invest to Protect Act will provide the following federal investment to small police departments:

  1. Investments in officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic violence response training, allowing officers to receive critical training that will make them more effective at their jobs, all 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.
  2. Investment for body worn cameras — to hold everyone accountable — while also providing much-needed resources for data storage and data security.
  3. Investment for small departments to recruit new officers — helping expand departments and bringing in new, good officers. This investment can also be used by departments to provide retention bonuses to help keep their existing officers and provide investment for officers pursuing graduate degrees in public health, social work, and mental health.
  4. Investment for departments to provide mental health resources for their officers.

The full bill text of the Invest to Protect Act can be found here.

The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by 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.

The bill led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer and John Rutherford is cosponsored by Reps. Cindy Axne; Don Bacon; Sanford Bishop Jr.; Ed Case; Steve Chabot; Jim Costa; Angie Craig; Antonio Delgado; Val Demings; Brian Fitzpatrick; Jared Golden; Jaime Herrera-Beutler; Dusty Johnson; Dave Joyce; John Katko; Susie Lee; Elaine Luria; Peter Meijer; Dan Meuser; Markwayne Mullin; Tom O’Halleran; Jimmy Panetta; Chris Pappas; Dean Phillips; Tom Reed; Kurt Schrader; Mikie Sherrill; Elissa Slotkin; Jason Smith; Abigail Spanberger; Bryan Steil; Tom Suozzi; Fred Upton; David Valadao; Filemon Vela; and Bruce Westerman.

“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 Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), a member of the bipartisan Law Enforcement Caucus. “This legislation 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.”

Gottheimer continued, “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. As New York City’s new Mayor, Eric Adams, a former Police Captain, recently said, ‘I don’t subscribe to the belief of some that we can only have justice and not public safety. We will have them both.’ Adams is exactly right — we can and we will have both, thanks, in part, to the actions we are announcing today that will help ensure a safer, more just community.”

“Small police forces in rural areas often suffer from a lack of operational equipment and services,” said Congressman John Rutherford (FL-04). “That’s why we introduced the Invest to Protect Act, which creates a grant program for departments with fewer than 200 officers to support critical resources like body cameras, training, retention, and mental health care. Thank you to my colleague, Rep. Gottheimer, for leading on this important legislation.”

“As a former Chief of Police, I am proud to join with Democratic and Republican colleagues on this bill to fund our police. After a 27 year career, I know that smaller police departments across Florida face particular challenges in recruitment, training, retention, and officer wellness,” said Congresswoman Val Demings (FL-10). “I strongly support these additional federal resources which will fund police departments looking to hire and support officers with the right qualifications. These investments will ensure higher levels of training and accountability. I look forward to working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to get this bill passed and fund Florida’s police departments and their important mission.”

“As a former federal agent and the daughter of a career law enforcement officer, I understand the critical importance of supporting those who keep our communities safe,” said Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (VA-07). “The bipartisan Invest to Protect Act would provide police departments with long overdue investments in training, equipment, retention bonuses, and recruitment resources. Additionally, this legislation recognizes the need for improved mental health services for these men and women — many of whom are left in the position of stepping in as crisis counselors. I am proud to help introduce this legislation to ensure Virginia’s law enforcement officers have the necessary tools to protect our citizens — one of our fundamental responsibilities as a nation.”

“Our hero law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect their communities. At a minimum, we must ensure that our officers, especially those in small departments across the country that often lack adequate funding, are provided with the training, equipment, and resources they need to work in the field safely,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1). “I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation, which will make meaningful investments in our local law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”

“Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to enforce our laws, keep us safe, and provide assistance to millions of Americans every single day,” said Congressman Dean Phillips (MN-03). “I am proud to join Reps. Gottheimer and Rutherford on this important piece of legislation to ensure our law enforcement agencies have the funding they need to recruit and retain good officers, to support officers with mental health resources, and to provide training to meet the pressing needs of our communities.”

“We have all witnessed firsthand the serious issues brought on by these supply chain disruptions. It is crucial that critical supplies reach those in need and that is why we are proud to have co-sponsored this bill. We must do all we can to alleviate these disruptions for the health and security of our Nation,” said Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23).

“All across central and southwest Iowa, our law enforcement officers go to work every single day to protect Iowans and help keep our communities safe. These officers deserve the same access to federal grants as the officers in big cities, but there’s no dedicated way for our federal support to reach officers in our rural areas,” said Congresswoman Cindy Axne (IA-03). “Our bill will change that by giving rural Iowa a crucial leg up in getting the resources it needs to support its police officers. As the Co-Chair of the Rural Reinvestment Task Force and a steadfast supporter of our first responders, I’m proud to help introduce this legislation today.”

“Local law enforcement agencies play an essential role in our communities, and it is critical that they, regardless of size, have the support and resources they need to do their jobs,” said Congressman Peter Meijer (MI-3). “Targeting funds to smaller departments with fewer than 200 officers will help these agencies access needed trainings and equipment, assist with recruitment and retention, and provide mental health services to these brave first responders. I am proud to help introduce legislation that supports local police and ensures communities of all sizes can prioritize public safety.”

“It is of absolute importance to ensure that our local law enforcement agencies have the resources and appropriate training to resolve the wide range of situations they face in serving our communities. This bill provides grants to smaller police departments – like those in Middle and Southwest Georgia – to help recruit, retain, properly prepare, and support these public servants who are vital to the safety and well-being of our communities,” said Congressman Sanford Bishop (GA-2).

“With 90 percent of our law enforcement departments having 200 or less officers, resources for training, recruitment and retention can be very limited,” said Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02). “This grant program will allow these departments to recruit talented individuals and provide them with up-to-date training and continuing education so they can meet the day-to-day challenges of their job. I’m pleased to join this bipartisan effort to invest in law enforcement.”

“Now more than ever, we need to make sure police departments in smaller and rural towns have the resources they need to set our officers up for success *and* keep our communities safe. This bill does exactly that by funding specialized training for situations that require de-escalation or instances that may involve unique skill sets, including responding to domestic violence calls,” said Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (MI-08). “After the tragedy we experienced in Oxford late last year, I’ve also seen firsthand the need to make sure our first responders have access to the mental health resources they need. That’s why I’m pleased this bill includes funding to help cover those costs for our law enforcement officers, as well as allocating funds for essential accountability measures like body cameras. Good community policing starts with making sure our local departments have the resources they need to get the job done, and this bill provides that funding while giving officers the training and tools they need for a range of different situations.”

“I have always been a strong supporter of law enforcement,” said Congressman David Valadao (CA-21). “Police departments in small communities, like many in the Central Valley, struggle to have enough funding to properly recruit, train, and provide resources for their officers. I’m proud to cosponsor legislation that would invest dollars into giving the men and women who keep our communities safe the resources they need to do their job.”

“Every day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, members of our local police departments are protecting us and serving us. Some days are uneventful. Other days are full of danger. And then there are the days when their dedication to their jobs leads them to perform extraordinary acts of heroism.” said Congressman Tom Suozzi (NY-3). “Targeted federal investments will be key in ensuring the brave men and women of the New York Police Departments can continue to carry out their duty to serve and protect our community.”

“Our law enforcement deserves the very best,” said Congressman Dusty Johnson (SD-AL). “The Invest to Protect Act provides additional resources needed to bolster de-escalation training and mental health resources for the officers that put their lives on the line every single day to protect our communities.”

“The bipartisan Invest to Protect Act will bring funds to New Hampshire’s police departments to help them purchase new equipment, provide training and mental health resources, and recruit and retain dedicated officers,” said Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-1). “Most departments across New Hampshire would be eligible for these funds, and these investments in officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic violence training will ensure the safety of members of New Hampshire’s law enforcement as well as our communities. Combined with my EAGLE Act, the Invest to Protect Act will ensure our departments have the resources they need to support our first responders and keep our communities safe.”

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, calls to defund the police are flat out wrong. Our law enforcement folks put their lives on the line every day to protect our families and communities, and deserve our real gratitude,” said Congressman Fred Upton (MI-6). “They need resources for better pay, training, and equipment, like body cameras, to help them properly and safely do their jobs. That’s why I’m proud to help introduce the bipartisan Invest to Protect Act because we must always support and defend our men and women who wear the uniform.”

“New Jersey is proud to have the most professional law enforcement and first responders in the nation and many of them serve on smaller municipal forces in our local towns and communities,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11). “After years of serving on the frontlines of a deadly pandemic and in danger of facing funding cuts due to the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap imposed by the 2017 Trump tax bill, our local police forces need support to continue doing their jobs effectively and safely. This bill offers that support by providing funding for equipment like body cameras, investing in de-escalation and domestic violence response training, and bettering the mental health resources available for the local departments and officers that people interact with the most.”

“Police Departments in small towns and municipalities often have limited resources to address their unique demands,” said Congressman Steve Chabot (OH-01). “This bill, the Invest to Protect Act of 2022, would help level the playing field so that all communities have the opportunity to improve public safety for their residents.”

“Police departments large and small across our country are facing the reality of severe staff shortages arising from the inevitable retirement of their baby-boom generation and many other reasons,” said Congressman Ed Case (HI-01).“Especially with state and  local governments facing broader and more acute budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a critical need to reverse shrinking police forces.  This measure will help ensure that eligible police departments have enough officers and other personnel to provide for public safety, avoid costly overtime, maintain morale and prevent officer burnout.”

“We need to make sure our law enforcement officers have the best training and resources possible to earn the trust of the communities they protect and serve. The Invest in Law Enforcement Act would significantly help meet this goal by giving our smaller law enforcement agencies the tools they need to recruit, retain and support quality officers, while implementing policies and procedures that will boost transparency and accountability,” said Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05). “The smartly-targeted investments in the bipartisan bill are further needed to help officers meet the unique demands and situations that arise in their local communities through domestic violence response training, education opportunities in social work and mental health fields, and access to resources for their own mental wellbeing. I am confident these investments will lead to safer, more equitable communities in Oregon and across the country.”

“Local law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to protect and serve their communities – oftentimes working on strained budgets without the equipment and training they need to reduce crime and keep Minnesotans safe,” said Congresswoman Angie Craig (MN-02). “It’s long past time that Congress stepped up and enacted legislation to ensure our smaller and mid-size police departments have the resources necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively. I’m proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce the Invest to Protect Act, which will deliver commonsense solutions to build safer, more secure communities.”

“Congress should actively support the men and women that bravely serve our communities in law enforcement, rather than leading the charge for budget cuts that would leave communities and officers vulnerable,” Congressman Filemon Vela (TX-34) said. “I am proud to support Congressman Gottheimer’s constructive legislation that will build better-trained, more accountable law enforcement agencies in our nation’s smallest communities. This bill targets new investments to improve officer training in de-escalation and allocates resources for body worn cameras to ensure all parties are held accountable under the law. The bill will help small departments recruit and retain the most qualified officers and ensure those officers have access to mental health resources as needed.”

“Local law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to protect us, and we owe it to them to ensure they have the resources they need to continue to protect our communities,” said Congresswoman Susie Lee (NV-3). “The mental toll on our officers often goes unspoken and unacknowledged. But, it is real. This bill funds mental health resources for police officers, helping to ensure our law enforcement officers get the support they need as they do the often stressful work to keep our neighborhoods safe. We know that officers often face circumstances that require unique responses. That’s why this bill’s investment in officer safety, de-escalation and domestic violence training is so important. Public safety is my top priority and I’ll always fight to get our law enforcement heroes the resources they need.”

“Many of our communities are finding it very difficult to recruit and retain quality officers, especially now as we face increasing rates of crime,” said Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20). “Our bipartisan bill would help those communities by providing their law enforcement agencies with federal funding for resources, including de-escalation training, mental health services, body cameras, and incentives to recruit and retain officers. I realize that crime is seen by some as a local issue, but as a federal representative and a former prosecutor, I know that federal financial support can greatly help our law enforcement agencies properly protect and serve all communities.”

“Our small police departments should not be left behind,” said Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16). “If we want to see real reforms that make a difference in our communities, it’s important to realize that one size does not fit all. The overwhelming majority of our police forces across America and in my district have less than 100 personnel with stretched budgets. This legislation will help ensure these agencies have the necessary resources to invest in best practices and hire qualified people.”

Support for the bipartisan Invest to Protect Act:

“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,” said Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police. “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.  On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I am proud to offer our support for this incredibly necessary legislation.”

“The law enforcement assistance grant programs through the Department of Justice provide invaluable resources, training, and technical assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies, keeping our communities safe. However, small agencies across the country find themselves getting left behind due to their size and lack of resources for participating in 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 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 Bill Johnson, Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO).

“If 2022 is anything like the past two years, then it will be another tough year for law enforcement and we will need backup more than ever whether it is on patrol or in the legislative halls of government,” said Thomas Mungeer, National Troopers Coalition Chairman. “It is refreshing to see that Congressman Josh Gottheimer is demonstrating that he is willing to step up and support the men and women who don a uniform and help protect his constituents every day of the year.”

“Our state and local law enforcement all across New Jersey are critical to keeping our families and communities safe, and it’s critical that we stand up for them in return,” said New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan. “I’m proud to be supporting Congressman Gottheimer as he continues his fight to support Jersey’s law enforcement, as well as the Invest to Protect Act — to ensure local police departments have the training and resources they need.”

“The STFA is proud to stand in support of the Police Investment Act. We commend Congressman Gottheimer for his interest in and support of law enforcement. This Act provides funding for vital functions for police officers such as training and education as well as funding for necessary tools such as body worn cameras (BWC),” said New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association President Wayne Blanchard. “All of these investments are a huge win for individual police officers, police agencies, and the citizens we proudly serve.”

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