RELEASE: Gottheimer’s Bipartisan Invest to Protect Act Passes House

Sep 22, 2022
Press

We Must Fund — Not Defund Law Enforcement

Invests in Training, Recruitment & Retention, Mental Health Resources for Local Law Enforcement

Supported by NAPO and FOP

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, September 22, 2022, the bipartisan, bicameral Invest to Protect Act, sponsored by U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), passed the House by a 360 to 64 vote. 

The bipartisan Invest to Protect Act, which was introduced by Gottheimer and former Sheriff Rep. John Rutherford (FL-4), will make critical, targeted investments in small and midsize police departments with fewer than 125 sworn officers — which make up more than 96% of local U.S. police departments — for the recruitment, retention, support, and training they need to protect themselves and our families. It will give departments the flexibility to utilize resources to make meaningful investments in their officers and communities.

The bipartisan Invest to Protect Act of 2022 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 $60,000,000 a year for 5 years for local police departments.

A version of this legislation unanimously passed the Senate, led by Senators Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Grassley (R-IA).

“Today, Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the bipartisan, bicameral Invest to Protect Act to make real progress for public safety by investing in good policing to protect our families and officers. It will ensure that local police departments across our country have what they need to recruit and retain the finest officers, to provide necessary training, and to invest in providing mental health resources for our officers,” said U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), a member of the bipartisan Law Enforcement Caucus and lead House sponsor of the Invest to Protect Act. “The Invest to Protect Act was developed through many conversations with Republicans and Democrats in both chambers, and with a broad spectrum of stakeholders. It would not be where it is today without the partnership and support of Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty, the National Association of Police Organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, our local New Jersey law enforcement organizations and departments, including the New Jersey State PBA and New Jersey State Fraternal Order of Police, and my Senate colleagues.”

Gottheimer continued, “As New York City’s new Mayor, Eric Adams, a former Police Captain, 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. The bottom line: you cannot cut or defund your way to safer communities and better police departments. It’s about investing to protect. We must always get the backs of those who risk their lives every day to protect us.”

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

“The Invest to Protect Act will create a broad grant program specifically for small agencies within the DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program that will give them access vital resources to help them train their officers, retain and hire officers, and support mental health and wellness programs for officers,” said National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) Executive Director William J. Johnson, Esq. “We must ensure all law enforcement agencies have the support and resources necessary to effectively serve and protect our communities.”

The Invest to Protect Act of 2022 has been endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO). 

In support of his Invest to Protect Act, Gottheimer’s floor debate remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of my bipartisan, bicameral legislation, the Invest to Protect Act, to invest in good policing to fight crime and protect our families and officers.  

We must ensure that local police departments across our country have what they need to recruit and retain the finest officers, to provide necessary training, and to invest in providing mental health resources for our officers.

Across our country, we have seen a rise in crime.

And this is at a time when it’s harder than ever to hire, recruit, and retain officers. In fact, last year, the Police Executive Research Forum found a 44 percent increase in retirements and 18 percent increase in resignations in police departments.

One thing is clear: if you want to make something better, you don’t get there by cutting or defunding. You need to make smart, targeted investments. We must fund — not defund law enforcement.

That is why I introduced this new bipartisan, bicameral bill this year, the bipartisan Invest to Protect Act — to make critical, targeted investments in local police departments, and protect our communities.

Work on Invest to Protect started more than a year ago through bipartisan police reform talks with Democrats and Republicans from all over the country, in the House and Senate and the states, including with members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, who have overwhelmingly endorsed this bill. 

I crafted the bipartisan Invest to Protect Act with Republican Congressman and former Sheriff, and friend, John Rutherford, and the bill was developed through many conversations with Republicans and Democrats in both chambers, and with a broad spectrum of stakeholders.  

I’m especially appreciative of the support and input from the National Association of Police Organization (NAPO), the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), our local New Jersey law enforcement organizations and departments, including Pat Colligan at the New Jersey State PBA and Robert W. Fox at New Jersey State Fraternal Order of Police, and my Senate colleagues. 

This legislation would not be where it is today without the partnership and support of Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty. The Chairwoman’s leadership, friendship, and guidance has been key to us bringing this bill to the floor. I would also like to thank the Congressional Progressive Caucus for their constructive engagement in this process. And Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries and Speaker Pelosi for their tireless work.

The Invest to Protect Act will invest in small and midsize police departments with fewer than 125 sworn officers — which make up more than 96 percent of local U.S. police departments.

First, the bipartisan legislation will invest in officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic violence response training, and will offset overtime pay for officers who are training. 

Second, it will provide grants for small departments to recruit new officers. It will also provide retention bonuses to help departments keep their best officers. 

Third and finally, the Invest to Protect Act will provide critical resources for departments to provide mental health resources for their officers. And it includes strong accountability measures.

These are critical steps to make much needed investment in our local police.

Going forward, I will continue to fight for additional equipment and training our officers need to safely protect our communities.

As New York City’s new Mayor, Eric Adams, a former Police Captain, 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.

The bottom line: you can’t cut or defund your way to safer communities and better police departments.  

It’s about investing to protect.

We must always get the backs of those who risk their lives every day to protect us.

Thank you and I yield back the balance of my time.

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