Legislation is Congressman Tom Rice’s First Bill Introduction of 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rice (R-S.C.) and Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-V.A.) along with 10 of their colleagues today introduced the bipartisan Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act of 2022 to increase compensation and hiring of law enforcement officers.

The legislation 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 stand-alone COPS office within the U.S. Department of Justice. 

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 legislation also requires the U.S. Government Accountability Office to file a report at the mid-point 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  

“Police officers keep all kinds of communities safe, but those in rural and low-income communities often face barriers to doing their jobs effectively and efficiently. I’ve met with law enforcement officers in all eight counties of the 7th District to hear how we can make our law enforcement programs work better for communities in South Carolina and across the Nation,” said Rice. “The COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act will ensure all communities are well staffed with officers who can meet the needs of the community, are trained properly, and paid a fair wage. I’m proud that this bill nearly triples the amount appropriated from last year for this program and it provides more funding than this program has been appropriated in a decade. We can’t merely talk about the need for improving law enforcement relations, budgets, and trainings. This legislation delivers on those calls for thoughtful and targeted solutions.”

“During the pandemic, Virginia’s police officers — particularly those in rural areas — readily took on roles and responsibilities far outside their job descriptions. In recent conversations with the Seventh District’s police departments, I consistently hear about the pressing need to retain these dedicated public servants and to recruit additional officers,” said Spanberger. “Many Virginia police departments rely on the COPS Program to make sure their officers are well-trained, receive competitive pay, and stay on the force — and our bipartisan bill would strengthen federal support for this vital community policing initiative. As a former federal law enforcement officer, I am proud to introduce legislation that can both protect our neighbors and strengthen relationships between our officers and the Virginia communities they serve. I would also like to thank Congressman Rice for his partnership and leadership on this critical issue.”

“The ‘defund the police’ craze has contributed to demoralized police forces and fewer good cops on our streets; it’s time to reverse course,” said Herrera Beutler. “That’s why I’m pleased to work with my Republican and Democrat colleagues to introduce the COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act that will inject more federal funds in local police departments to hire, train, and retain police officers. It also ensures our brave men and women in blue – who lay their lives down on the line to protect our communities – are adequately compensated. If we want well-trained police officers truly dedicated to protecting and serving all residents of our communities, it’s time to re-invest in our law enforcement rather than chasing them away or cutting their funding.”

“Working in law enforcement has always been a demanding job, but right now we ask more of our officers than ever before,” said Golden. “We need to do more to help departments — particularly in rural areas — recruit, hire, and train more officers. In Maine, many of our rural communities are experiencing a serious and sustained shortage of officers, which affects public safety, emergency response, and peace of mind in towns across the state. This bipartisan bill is designed to help address this problem and will nearly triple the COPS grant funding available for departments. I’m proud to work across the aisle with Reps. Rice, Spanberger, and Herrera Beutler to support law enforcement.”

“South Carolina’s Sheriffs are excited to see this important initiative introduced. A number of Sheriffs’ Offices across the state - including small, rural agencies - have successfully used these funds to enhance the level of public safety provided in their communities. We hope this bi-partisan legislation is embraced and enacted quickly,” said Jarrod Bruder, Executive Director of South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.  

The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Jared Golden (D-ME), John Katko (R-NY), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Burgess Owens (R-UT), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Young Kim (R-CA) and Ron Kind (D-WI).

About the COPS Office:

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) is the component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation's state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources.

Community policing begins with a commitment to building trust and mutual respect between police and communities. It is critical to public safety, ensuring that all stakeholders work together to address our nation's crime challenges. When police and communities collaborate, they more effectively address underlying issues, change negative behavioral patterns, and allocate resources.

The COPS Office awards grants to hire community policing professionals, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement. Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to help advance community policing.