Homeland Preparedness News: Bill seeks to address boosts in rural law enforcement hiring, compensation

HOMELAND PREPAREDNESS NEWS, DOUGLAS CLARK

A group of lawmakers recently introduced a measure that seeks to increase the hiring and compensation of rural law enforcement officers.

U.S. Reps. Tom Rice (R-SC) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) recently joined 10 colleagues in introducing the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act of 2022.

The bill reauthorizes the COPS on the Beat Grant Program for the next decade while expanding COPS Grants to rural communities, in addition to enabling the grants to be used to increase wages for officers in low-income communities.

“Police officers keep all kinds of communities safe, but those in rural and low-income communities often face barriers to doing their jobs effectively and efficiently. I’ve met with law enforcement officers in all eight counties of the 7th District to hear how we can make our law enforcement programs work better for communities in South Carolina and across the Nation,” Rice said. “The COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act will ensure all communities are well-staffed with officers who can meet the needs of the community, are trained properly, and paid a fair wage.”

According to Rice, the bill almost triples the amount appropriated from last year for the program and provides more funding than has been appropriated in 10 years.

“During the pandemic, Virginia’s police officers — particularly those in rural areas — readily took on roles and responsibilities far outside their job descriptions,” Spanberger said. “Many Virginia police departments rely on the COPS Program to make sure their officers are well-trained, receive competitive pay, and stay on the force — and our bipartisan bill would strengthen federal support for this vital community policing initiative.”

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