Spanberger, Rice Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Law Enforcement Officer Compensation & Hiring

Jan 12, 2022
Local Issues
Press

The Congresswoman’s Legislation Would Nearly Triple Federal Funding for the COPS Program, Cut Red Tape for Rural Police Departments & Sheriff’s Offices

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Tom Rice (R-SC-07) today introduced the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) on the Beat Program Reauthorization and Parity Act to help increase police officer pay and to assist local police departments with the hiring of additional officers.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) is the component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation’s state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources. The COPS Office also awards federal grants for local police departments to hire community policing professionals, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to local residents, government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement. Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to help advance community policing.

Spanberger’s COPS on the Beat Program Reauthorization and Parity Act would reauthorize the COPS on the Beat Grant Program for the next 10 years, expand access to COPS Grants within rural communities, allows for COPS grants to be used to increase wages for officers in low-income communities, and creates a stand-alone COPS office within the U.S. Department of Justice. In fiscal year 2021 (FY21), the COPS on the Beat Program was appropriated $386 million. In response to high demand for this funding, the bipartisan legislation increases funding to more than $1,047,119,000 in FY22 — nearly triple the FY21 amount.

“During the pandemic, Virginia’s police officers — particularly those in rural areas — readily took on roles and responsibilities far outside their job descriptions. In recent conversations with the Seventh District’s police departments, I consistently hear about the pressing need to retain these dedicated public servants and to recruit additional officers,” said Spanberger. “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. As a former federal law enforcement officer, I am proud to introduce legislation that can both protect our neighbors and strengthen relationships between our officers and the Virginia communities they serve. I would also like to thank Congressman Rice for his partnership and leadership on this critical issue.”

“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,” said Rice. “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. I’m proud that this bill nearly triples the appropriation amount from last year for this program and it provides more funding than this program has been appropriated in a decade. We can’t merely talk about the need for improving law enforcement relations, budgets, and trainings. This legislation delivers on those calls for thoughtful and targeted solutions.”

Following the bill’s introduction, several Virginia law enforcement leaders endorsed Spanberger’s legislation.

“Police departments across the nation are facing budgetary and recruitment challenges — and renewed support for the COPS Office is essential. Since its inception, the COPS Office has been a tremendous resource for police departments in Virginia,” said Chief Chris Jenkins, Culpeper Police Department. “By increasing funding for the COPS Office and cutting red tape to ensure rural communities can access these funds, the COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act will benefit communities like Culpeper. I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation, and I thank Congresswoman Spanberger for working to make sure police have the resources they need to serve our communities.”

“As a lifelong Henrico resident, I am proud to protect and serve our community every day — and our officers and staff share this sense of duty. The COPS Program plays an important role in making sure our officers have the support they need to follow through on this mission and keep Henrico County safe,” said Sheriff Alisa Gregory, Henrico County Sheriff’s Office. “That’s why I want to thank Congresswoman Spanberger for her focus on increasing funding for the COPS Program. With this additional investment, communities like Henrico would have the ability to recruit more candidates, boost our numbers, keep our officers on the payroll, and maintain our ability to serve.”

“With over 40 years in law enforcement, I have seen firsthand the benefits of the COPS grant since its inception in 1994. Now, more than ever with the job market, reauthorization is more critical than ever. I fully support this legislation and Congresswoman Spanberger’s efforts to get it passed,” said Sheriff Karl Leonard, Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office.

“The Goochland County Sheriff’s Office is so very thankful for the bipartisan efforts of Senator Graham, Congressman Rice, and Congresswoman Spanberger to reauthorize the COPS on the Beat Program,” said Sheriff Steven Ned Creasey, Goochland County Sheriff’s Office. “The COPS program will provide integral grant funding to assist the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies as we continue to focus on the values of our community through our hiring practices and increased training opportunities for our deputies.”

“The COPS Office has been an integral partner to police and sheriff departments across the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, these resources haven’t always been as accessible in our rural communities, due to several restrictions. The COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act would ensure rural communities, like Louisa, can access these funds,” said Sheriff Donald A. Lowe, Louisa County Sheriff’s Office. “By increasing COPS grant funding and cutting red tape, this bipartisan bill will be a tremendous help to local police and sheriff departments at a time when departments face budgetary pressures and challenges in the recruitment of new officers. I am proud to support this legislation, and I thank Congresswoman Spanberger and Congressman Rice for their bipartisan commitment to supporting our men and women in uniform.”

The COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act is endorsed by multiple nationwide law enforcement organizations, including the National Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major County Sheriffs Association, National Organization of Police Officers, National Sheriffs Association, and Sergeants Benevolent Association

The legislation would also require the U.S. Government Accountability Office to file a report at the mid-point of the program and the conclusion to determine:

  • How representative law enforcement agencies are of their communities;
  • The percentage that lives in the jurisdiction served;
  • Average pay compared to cost of living of jurisdiction; and
  • Legislative and administrative recommendations for improving these data points.

Click here to read the full bill text.

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