Gluesenkamp Perez Helps Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Rural Police, Sheriff’s Departments

Jan 12, 2024
Press
Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez meets with the Centralia Police Department in August.

Yesterday, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) and Rep. Young Kim (CA-39) helped introduce the bipartisan Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act, led by Reps. Nick LaLota (NY-01) and Abigail Spanberger (VA-07).

The bill would improve and reauthorize the COPS on the Beat Grant Program to aid local law enforcement in hiring new officers and support efforts to increase and improve community policing and training.

This bill reauthorizes the COPS on the Beat Grant Program for the next 10 years, expands access to COPS grants to rural communities, allows for COPS grants to be used to increase wages for officers in low-income communities, and creates a standalone COPS office within the U.S. Department of Justice.

“When I’ve met with police chiefs and sheriffs across Southwest Washington, I’ve heard about the challenges they’re facing with officer training times, recruitment, and retention. Oftentimes, departments in rural and low-income communities are most impacted, yet it can be more difficult for them to access critical federal grant funding,” said Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez. “This bipartisan legislation will be an important step toward leveling the playing field and ensuring local law enforcement have the resources they need to keep our communities safe and feel supported in their difficult jobs.”

This legislation also requires the U.S. Government Accountability Office to file a report at the midpoint 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.

The COPS on the Beat Grant Program was previously appropriated $386 million in FY21. This legislation increases the authorization to $1,047,119,000 in FY22.

This bill is the House companion to S. 1530, introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Full text of the legislation is available here.

“As a dedicated advocate for public safety, community well-being, and our men and women in blue, I am proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the COPS on Beat Grants Program. Our legislation reflects a commitment to fostering stronger relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve and to public safety,” said Rep. LaLota. “By providing crucial resources and support through the COPS program, we empower our officers to proactively engage with residents, address local concerns, serve and protect the people, and build trust. This reauthorization underscores an unwavering belief in the importance of ensuring our law enforcement agencies have the tools they need to keep our neighborhoods safe and secure.”

“For years, I’ve heard directly from Virginia’s police chiefs and sheriffs who are finding it hard to recruit, retain, and train qualified officers and deputies. Reauthorizing and strengthening the COPS on the Beat program would help address these concerns directly,” said Rep. Spanberger. “As a former federal law enforcement officer, I know that community policing initiatives help build stronger, safer communities. I’m proud to once again help lead this straightforward, bipartisan legislation to help our local law enforcement officers access the resources, build the relationships, and gain the training they need to keep Virginians safe. These brave Americans go to work each day to serve their communities and neighbors, and we will work hard to deliver the support they deserve.”

“The Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA) commends Representatives LaLota and Spanberger for reintroducing the COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act, which will greatly support our efforts to recruit, train, and retain qualified officers to keep our communities safe,” said Megan Noland, Executive Director of the Major County Sheriffs of America. “We also appreciate this legislation recognizes the importance of authorizing the COPS Office, which has always been an incredible partner, providing necessary resources to support law enforcement agencies across the nation. We stand ready to support all efforts to advance this bipartisan legislation to build safe communities and partnerships with the citizens we serve.”

This bill is supported by the Major County Sheriffs Association, the New York Police Department’s Sergeants Benevolent Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Association of Police Organizations, and the National Sheriffs Association.

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