Kuster pushes through public safety legislation to support Granite State law enforcement
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) voted to pass a comprehensive public safety package to support New Hampshire law enforcement, expand resources for communities to respond to non-violent crises, bolster violence intervention initiatives, and help ensure the safety of Granite State communities.
This package includes the Invest to Protect Act – bipartisan legislation Rep. Kuster helped to introduce that will help law enforcement in New Hampshire retain and recruit police officers while investing in accountability measures and de-escalation training. Kuster has been pushing for legislation to provide resources for law enforcement to retain offers and fund recruitment initiatives.
“Members of Granite State law enforcement work tirelessly to protect our communities and residents,” said Kuster. “I’ve heard from police departments in cities and towns throughout our state that are facing serious challenges hiring and retaining the personnel they need. That’s why I’ve pushed legislation to provide resources for our local law enforcement to recruit and retain officers so they can more safely and effectively serve our communities. The comprehensive package of bills we passed today will provide much-needed support for police by making it easier to hire new officers, investing in training and accountability measures, utilizing mental health professionals to respond to situations that armed police would otherwise be responsible for, and more.”
The legislative package passed by the House today includes four bills:
• The Invest to Protect Act funds the police with grants to help small, local law enforcement agencies retain and recruit officers. At the same time, this bill invests in strong guardrails and accountability measures, including training for de-escalation, responding to substance use disorders, supporting survivors of domestic violence, and promoting a duty of care. Specifically, the bill would:
• Provide grants to law enforcement agencies with fewer than 125 officers to fund de-escalation training, access to mental health resources, recruitment, and retention.
• Allow the Department of Justice (DOJ) to give preference to agencies applying for funds for de-escalation training.
• Require DOJ to evaluate barriers in the application process and provide technical assistance to agencies applying for grants.
• Require disclosure of the use of grant funds for signing or retention bonuses.
Allow DOJ to audit any grantees to ensure funds are used appropriately.
• Require DOJ to ensure the grants are not duplicative of existing grant programs.
The Mental Health Justice Act will help send unarmed mental health professionals to respond to mental health crises in our neighborhoods: crucial action to save lives from potentially fatal encounters with armed police officers. This bill will help prevent violence against individuals with mental illness and disabilities.
The Break the Cycle of Violence Act invests in effective, evidence-based community violence intervention initiatives. This builds on the life-saving progress we forged with similar investments in the American Rescue Plan.
The VICTIM Act will bolster the ability of police forces to solve homicides, sexual assaults, shootings, and other violent crimes: a necessary step to ensure justice is served and improve trust in law enforcement.