CULPEPER STAR-EXPONENT, CLINT SCHEMMER
On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, to investments in local police departments in Virginia and across the country.
The bill was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Officers and National Association of Police Organizations.
Spanberger, a former federal law-enforcement officer, helped introduce the Invest to Protect Act, also known as the Invest in Law Enforcement Act, earlier this year. The bill would see that police officers in smaller communities and rural areas get the resources, recruiting tools and training to keep themselves and residents safe, Spanberger’s office said in a statement.
Before lawmakers voted to approve the bill, Spanberger spoke on the House floor in its support.
“This legislation invests in officers’ safety. It invests in domestic violence response training. It invests in funding the police departments like those I represent,” she said. “Throughout Virginia’s 7th District, I hear directly from local police departments about the need for stronger investments in training, equipment, recruitment, and retention.”
The congresswoman expressed thanks for dedicated men and women who work daily to safeguard their fellow Americans.
“This is smart investment, smart policy,” Spanberger said. “And at this moment, we should have the common commitment to keeping America’s communities safe.”
The Invest to Protect Act is led by Reps Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and John Rutherford, R-Fla., a former sheriff.
Spanberger’s office said the bill would support Virginia police officers by:
—Investing in officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic-violence response training. These investments will make officers more effective without straining department budgets or reducing the number of officers on duty while others are trained. Federal funding would offset overtime pay.
—Providing grants for small departments to recruit new officers, helping to expand departments and add staff. It would provide retention bonuses to help departments keep existing officers and help officers pursue graduate degrees in public health, social work and mental health.
—Providing critical resources for police departments to provide mental health resources for their officers.
Also on Thursday, Spanberger and a majority of House members voted to pass other measures to help local law enforcement departments, prevent gun violence, and improve mental health services. They include:
—The Mental Health Justice Act, which would create a grant program to pay for hiring, training, salary, benefit and expenses for mental-health-provider first responder units.
—The Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which would provide federal grants to communities for evidence-informed community-violence intervention and prevention programs to interrupt cycles of violence.
—The VICTIM Act, which would establish a U.S. Department of Justice grant program to hire, train and retain detectives and victim-services personnel to investigate shootings and support victims.