A bipartisan bill recently introduced to the U.S. Senate aims to provide grant funding to small law enforcement agencies across the country.
The Invest to Protect Act, authored by Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, would provide $250 million over the next five years to local police departments with small staffs and limited funding.
According to lawmakers, more than 90% of all departments in the nation have fewer than 200 officers and struggle to obtain resources due to their size.
“Our local law enforcement agencies need more funding and support to keep Nevadans safe. My bipartisan bill would ensure that small agencies can easily access resources to provide training and mental health care for their officers and to invest in recruitment and retention to help keep great officers on the street,” Cortez Masto said.
Elko, Nevada, Police Chief Ty Trouten said in an email to the Elko Daily Free Press that while the Elko Police Department is doing fine with funding, he suspects that “really small entities in small cities and low populated counties do struggle” in recruitment, retention and training.
Cortez Masto said the bill would establish a $50 million grant through the DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program specifically for small local law enforcement agencies.
The senator said that the bill, supported by the Fraternal Order of Police and National Sheriffs’ Association, requires a grant application process that takes about 30 minutes.
The bill summary specifies that the funding can be used for a variety of purposes, including officer safety, de-escalation training, offsetting overtime pay when officers are in training, purchasing body-worn cameras, data storage and security for camera footage, and recruitment and retention efforts.
The legislation would also pay up to $10,000 in officers’ tuition for graduate studies in mental health, public health and social work. It would also pay for mental health services and resources for officers.
Grassley said the bill is intended to support law enforcement during difficult times.
“During my 99 county meetings, I’ve heard from local police departments about the difficulty they’ve had recruiting folks to be on the police force,” Grassley stated. “We need to ensure our law enforcement agencies have the resources needed to recruit, train and retain police — especially as crime rates continue soaring across the country.”