Culpeper Times: Spanberger helps introduce bill to increase funding for local police departments


U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — a former federal law enforcement officer — helped lead a bipartisan effort to make critical, targeted investments in local police departments in Virginia and across the United States.

The Spanberger-backed Invest to Protect Act would make sure police officers in smaller communities and rural areas have the resources, recruiting tools and training they need to keep themselves and their communities safe. Spanberger also helped introduce the bipartisan legislation in 2022. An overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of the U.S. House voted to pass the legislation later that year, but the bill did not make it to President Joe Biden’s desk.

The legislation also has the support of Virginia law enforcement departments, like the Culpeper Police Department.

“This bipartisan legislation will provide much-needed support in continuing to keep our small to mid-sized towns, like Culpeper, safe across America,” said Culpeper Police Department Chief of Police Chris Settle. “I am pleased this legislation will continue to invest in the recruitment and retention of qualified police officers, but more importantly, focus on mental health resources for our current police officers.”

The bipartisan bill is led by U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05) and John Rutherford (R-FL-04) — a former sheriff. Companion legislation is led in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

“The men and women of local law enforcement who keep our communities safe deserve the support necessary to do their jobs. As a former federal law enforcement officer and daughter of a career law enforcement officer, I’m deeply grateful for the officers who work each day to protect their neighbors,” Spanberger said. “I’m proud to once again back the Invest to Protect Act to help all of our local police departments — like many I represent in smaller, more rural communities — keep their officers and our neighbors safe. By providing these police departments with long overdue investments in training, retention bonuses, recruitment resources, and mental health services, this bipartisan bill recognizes the wide array of challenges faced by those who put on the badge and helps provide the support they deserve for their service.”

The bipartisan Invest to Protect Act is endorsed by many national law enforcement organizations, including the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the National Troopers Coalition (NTC), and the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO).

“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,” said National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Patrick Yoes. “Smaller municipalities are experiencing increased strain on the men and women in blue. 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 and help these same smaller agencies recruit new officers and retain experienced personnel.”

Specifically, the Invest to Protect Act would support Virginia police officers by:

Investing in officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic violence response training. These investments would allow officers to receive critical training that will make them more effective at their jobs, 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.

Providing grants for small departments to recruit new officers. These grants would help expand departments and bring in new, good officers. This bill would also provide retention bonuses to help departments keep their existing officers and provide investment for officers pursuing graduate degrees in public health, social work, and mental health.

Providing mental health resources. This legislation would provide critical resources for police departments to provide mental health resources for their officers.

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