Politics

Westerman Cosponsors Bipartisan Investment in Local Police Departments

Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Westerman (AR-04) recently cosponsored the bipartisan “Invest to Protect Act of 2022” to make critical, targeted investments in local police departments and ensure that departments with fewer than 200 police officers have the resources and training needed 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 35 other original cosponsors. The members released the following statements:

“It is to the nation’s benefit to ensure our police are fully equipped to keep residents and themselves safe, regardless of the department’s size,” said Congressman Westerman. “Especially in today’s climate, rural police officers must be supported more than ever to ensure their success and bolster officer retention. Men and women in uniform deserve our deepest gratitude as they maintain the thin blue line each and every day.”

“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.”

Background

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:

  • Investments in officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic violence response training, allowing officers to receive critical training, without putting a strain on department budgets or reducing the number of officers on duty while others are at training by allowing funds to be used to offset overtime pay.
  • Investment for body worn cameras while also providing much-needed resources for data storage and data security.
  • Investment for small departments to recruit new 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.
  • Investment for departments to provide mental health resources for their officers.

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

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