Spanberger Calls on U.S. Senate to Pass Bipartisan Bill to Increase Funding for Police Departments in Virginia & Across the Country

The “Invest to Protect Act” Establishes New Federal Investments in Smaller, Local Police Departments

HENRICO, V.A. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — a former federal law enforcement officer — today urged U.S. Senate leadership to pass bipartisan legislation she cosponsored that would make critical, targeted investments in smaller, local police departments in Virginia and communities across the country.

Spanberger helped introduce the Invest to Protect Act earlier this year. Last month, she voted with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House to pass the bipartisan legislation. The 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.

In a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnel, Spanberger called on the leaders to bring the Invest to Protect Act to the U.S. Senate floor for a vote. She also highlighted the challenges that local police departments face in Virginia and across the nation while protecting their communities if they lack sufficient funding.

“Police departments cannot effectively answer their communities’ immense and diverse needs without sufficient funding to hire, retain, and train officers. Therefore, we must get this crucial bill across the finish line,” wrote Spanberger. “As national crime rates increase, the substance use disorder crisis worsens, and mental health challenges rise, police departments have been increasingly relied upon to address these complex challenges – despite often not having the resources or training necessary to adequately respond.”

Spanberger continued, “Congress has recognized the crucial role of federal support for state and local departments, increasing funding for both the COPS Program and Byrne JAG Program in Fiscal Year 2022, but we must do more. As such, I urge the Senate to swiftly vote on the House-passed version of the Invest to Protect Act.”

Click here to read the letter, and the full letter text is below.

Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell:

I urge you to bring the House-passed Invest to Protect Act (H.R. 6448) to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible so it can be swiftly signed into law and begin helping police departments across the country make our communities safer. The House and Senate have both demonstrated, on a strong bipartisan basis, that this legislation funding local police departments is a top priority. Police departments cannot effectively answer their communities’ immense and diverse needs without sufficient funding to hire, retain, and train officers. Therefore, we must get this crucial bill across the finish line.

As national crime rates increase, the substance use disorder crisis worsens, and mental health challenges rise, police departments have been increasingly relied upon to address these complex challenges – despite often not having the resources or training necessary to adequately respond. All Americans benefit when our communities’ police officers are sufficiently trained, qualified, and have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. H.R. 6448 was developed with careful consideration by a wide network of stakeholders and includes critical provisions to support police departments, promote crucial trainings, and make our communities safer.

Many police departments rely on federal assistance to ensure their officers are effectively trained, receive competitive pay, and stay on the force. Federal funding is also critical for departments to be able to offer high-quality de-escalation training, and to train officers to safely handle interactions with vulnerable populations, such as individuals with mental health challenges. Additionally, as officers bravely respond to varied and complex community needs, departments must have the resources they need to support officers’ mental health. H.R. 6448 provides $60 million each year to small departments to meet all these needs.

Congress has also recognized the crucial role of federal support for state and local departments, increasing funding for both the COPS Program and Byrne JAG Program in Fiscal Year 2022, but we must do more. As such, I urge the Senate to swiftly vote on the House-passed version of the Invest to Protect Act. The Senate has already passed a slightly different version of this bill by unanimous consent, and the House version passed with a strong bipartisan vote of 360-64. It is time to get this bill done and to the President’s desk. We cannot continue to merely talk about the need for improving law enforcement staffing and training – we must deliver on those calls with thoughtful and targeted solutions, such as the bipartisan Invest to Protect Act. Congress must affirm our commitment to safe communities and common-sense solutions to national challenges with action on this bipartisan bill.

Thank you for your attention to this crucial issue.

— 

The Invest to Protect Act would provide annual funding for police departments to invest in officer training programs focusing on officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic violence response training. Additionally, the bipartisan legislation would create grants for small departments to recruit and retain new officers to expand departments, as well as retention bonuses to help departments keep their existing officers. The bill also makes investments in critical resources for police departments to provide mental health resources for their officers.

The bipartisan legislation is led by U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05) and John Rutherford (R-FL-04) — a former sheriff. The bill is endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Troopers Coalition (NTC), and the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO).

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