WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: National Law Enforcement Groups Back Spanberger’s Bipartisan Bill to Increase Law Enforcement Officer Compensation & Hiring

Jan 19, 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. — Following the introduction of U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s bipartisan bill to help increase police officer pay and to assist local police departments with hiring, several national law enforcement organizations have now backed her legislation.

Spanberger’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) on the Beat Program Reauthorization and Parity Act would reauthorize the COPS on the Beat Grant Program for the next 10 years and nearly triple its funding, expand access to COPS Grants within rural communities, allow for COPS grants to be used to increase wages for officers in low-income communities, and create a stand-alone COPS office within the U.S. Department of Justice.

The bipartisan bill — which Spanberger introduced alongside U.S. Representative Tom Rice (R-SC-07) last week — is now 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.

Many of these organizations are publicly voicing their support:

NATIONAL FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE (FOP): “Our nation is grappling with an increase in crime, particularly violent crime, and the profession of law enforcement is struggling to hire and retain good officers to keep our communities safe. This legislation affirms our national commitment to the community- oriented policing strategy—which the FOP believes is the most effective way to promote public safety and to enhance the quality of life in a community. On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I thank you both and all of our original cosponsors for working with us to develop this legislation,” said Patrick Yoes, National President, National Fraternal Order of Police. Read the letter here.

MAJOR CITIES CHIEFS ASSOCIATION (MCCA): “Local law enforcement agencies utilize COPS grants for a variety of critical purposes, including hiring officers. In light of the challenges with recruitment and retention facing many agencies, these grants have never been more important. The COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act of 2022 will formally authorize COPS grants and provide a much-needed increase in the authorized appropriations level, thereby providing increased stability for years to come. The MCCA thanks Rep. Rice, Rep. Spanberger, and the other co-sponsors for their work on this vital piece of legislation,” said Laura Cooper, Executive Director, Major Cities Chiefs Association. Read the letter here.

MAJOR COUNTY SHERIFFS OF AMERICA (MCSA):“The Major County Sheriffs of America thanks Representatives Rice and Spanberger for introducing legislation to reauthorize the COPS on the Beat Grant Program.  This program provides critical funding to hire, re-hire, and retain officers to increase community policing capacity and support crime prevention efforts.  In many communities, these dollars are keeping law enforcement officers on the street when they may otherwise be without coverage for portions of the day.  Increasing funding and improving the program will provide necessary resources for state and local enforcement to respond to their communities’ needs.  MCSA stands ready to support all efforts to advance this important legislation,” said Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, President, Major County Sheriffs of America.

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF POLICE ORGANIZATIONS (NAPO): “The COPS Program provides invaluable resources, training, and technical assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies, helping to keep our communities safe. However, small and rural agencies across the country find themselves getting left behind due to their size and lack of resources.  The COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act levels the playing field for small and rural law enforcement agencies and ensures greater access to departments in lower-income communities that otherwise would not be able to afford to participate in the grant program. We thank Representatives Rice and Spanberger for their leadership and we look forward to working with them to ensure all law enforcement agencies have the support and resources necessary to serve and protect our communities,” said Bill Johnson, Executive Director, National Association of Police Organizations.

Following the bipartisan bill’s introduction last week, several Virginia law enforcement leaders also 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.”

BACKGROUND

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.

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.

Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to help advance community policing.

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