Dear Representatives Gottheimer and Rutherford,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our support for H.R. 6448, the “Invest to Protect Act.”
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 of violent rhetoric against them, lagging technology, recruitment and retention issues, and mental health concerns. Smaller municipalities have seen an increased strain on the men and women in blue. We believe that your legislation would be a step in the right direction to combat these issues that plague law enforcement officers in smaller municipalities.
Your legislation would establish a grant program, administered by the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that would be used for the training of officers from police departments and municipalities that employ less than 200 law enforcement officers. The funding appropriated would be $50 million over a five-year period. These trainings would include de-escalation, domestic violence, and officer safety programs. Additionally, this bill could also be used to provide body-worn cameras for these local municipalities. This includes funding for the storing and securing of body camera data that is collected.
This legislation can also be used for the recruitment of new officers, and to help address the retention issue of current officers. The funding could also be used by officers, from eligible departments, that are pursuing graduate education in mental health, public health, or social work degrees. These officers could receive up to $10,000 in aid towards their tuition. Lastly, the funding could also be used for mental health services, treatments, and therapies for active police officers.
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. If I can provide any additional information about this bill, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.