WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03) voted for a comprehensive public safety package that will bolster community policing initiatives and first responder mental health programs in cities and towns across Massachusetts.
“Community police officers go to work each day to keep our communities safe. With the increase in violent crime being felt here in Massachusetts and across our nation, we have an obligation to make sure officers have the resources and training necessary to succeed,” said Congresswoman Trahan. “I voted for this package because it’ll invest in proven community policing and violence intervention programs that have a long track record of keeping our communities and our first responders safe. I’m especially proud that this package ensures that nonprofits and small, often underfunded police departments will have access to federal funding to participate in these successful initiatives. It’s critically important that the Senate take up this suite of bills so that communities can begin accessing these funds without delay.”
The legislation will bolster local community policing programs, invest in officer hiring and training programs, provide funding for local violence prevention programs, and create grants for mental health officials to assist with emergency calls where an individual is experiencing a mental health crisis. Specifically, the package includes the following pieces of legislation:
The Mental Health Justice Act: The bill creates a federal grant program for local departments to hire and train mental health professionals who can be dispatched when responding to 911 calls due to a mental health crisis. The grants will also be used to connect individuals suffering from a mental health crisis to appropriate care rather than incarceration. This new grant program will build upon promising local initiatives like the Middlesex County Restoration Center, which Trahan recently announced $1 million in federal funding for.
The Invest and Protect Act: The bill will help ensure that police departments in small communities with fewer than 125 officers have the resources and training they need. The legislation creates a grant program to provide resources to these departments to recruit, train, and retain officers, and provide them with critical mental health resources. The bill includes accountability provisions such as allowing the DOJ to prioritize departments that specify the grant amounts will be used for certain activities, including de-escalation training, data collection, and evidence-based best practices and training on the use of force. To ensure the efficacy of the training, the bill requires the Attorney General to, on an annual basis, evaluate the success of the training programs in reducing use of force incidents by each law enforcement agency.
The Break the Cycle of Violence Act: The bill would authorize federal grants to communities and local nonprofits for evidence-based community violence intervention and prevention programs designed to interrupt cycles of violence. The legislation would also create an Office of Community Violence Intervention at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 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. Organizations like UTEC with proven track records of community focused violence prevention and rehabilitation programs would be eligible for additional financial funding under these grants.
The VICTIM Act: The bill would provide federal grant funding to help state, Tribal, and local law enforcement agencies to hire and retain detectives that investigate especially difficult cases, including homicides, rapes, sexual assaults, kidnapping, and non-fatal shootings. The grant funding could also be used to help police address the needs of victims and their family members. This bill responds to the increase in violent crime in recent years that has increased the burden on police departments and the detectives responsible for investigating them.