Today, Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) voted for a public safety package of four bills that will provide federal funding for local police departments for training and retention programs while also bolstering mental health and victim services. The provisions of this package draw on evidence-based methods that have worked for law enforcement, public health, and victim services personnel across the country. Rep. Panetta was an original co-sponsor of the Invest to Protect Act and helped bring this legislative package to the floor for a vote today.
"Many of our local police departments are struggling to recruit and retain quality officers, even as we face increasing levels of crime and violence across the country. This bipartisan public safety package would provide local law enforcement agencies with federal funding for de-escalation training, mental health and victim services, body cameras, and incentives to recruit and retain officers," said Rep. Jimmy Panetta. It's unfortunate that some of my colleagues in Congress, as demonstrated by their votes against today's bills, fail to appreciate the many benefits of police to prevent and solve crimes. Nevertheless, I, as a former gang prosecutor on the Central Coast, as well as a majority of others in the House of Representatives, voted for this package to fund the police because we want more mental health services and fully understand the value of having properly trained police in our communities."
The Invest to Protect Act
This bill directs the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) within the Department of Justice (DOJ) to award a grant to a local or tribal government that employs fewer than 150 law enforcement officers. Grant funds may be used for various activities, including to purchase body cameras, provide de-escalation training, and improve recruitment and retention.
The Mental Health Justice Act
This bill creates an HHS grant program for states, Tribes, and local governments to hire, train, and dispatch mental health professionals when responding to 911 calls due to a mental health crisis and support connecting these people into appropriate care rather than incarceration.
The Break the Cycle of Violence Act
This bill would authorize federal grants to communities for evidence-based community violence intervention and prevention programs designed to interrupt cycles of violence. It would create an Office of Community Violence Intervention at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement these programs and create a grant program at the Department of Labor to provide job training and work opportunities for youth in communities impacted by violence.
The VICTIM Act
This bill would establish a grant program at the DOJ to help State, Tribal, and local law enforcement agencies improve their clearance rates for homicides and non-fatal shootings. The resources could also be used to help police address the needs of victims and their family members. This bill responds to the declining percentage of murder cases being solved by law enforcement agencies across the country by giving additional tools to help law enforcement agencies solve crimes.