Klobuchar, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Vital Support to Local Law Enforcement

Today, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced bipartisan legislation to provide vital support to local law enforcement. The COPS Improvement Act would provide for the hiring of more police officers and expand the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to account for developments in community policing techniques that have proven effective in preventing and fighting crime. The COPS program awards grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies throughout the United States so they can hire and train law enforcement officers to participate in community policing, purchase and deploy new crime-fighting technologies, and develop and test new and innovative policing strategies. This week, Murkowski and Klobuchar also sent a letter to the President to raise awareness about the legislation and the importance of this law enforcement program.

“I am proud to sponsor this legislation to support our nation’s law enforcement officers, acknowledge the risks and sacrifices they make every day, and provide them with the tools they need to keep our communities safe,” said Senator Murkowski. “First and foremost, it helps fully staff our law enforcement agencies to ensure that officers have backup in dangerous circumstances. It modernizes the COPS program by providing federal resources to improve police-community relations, develop less lethal and non-lethal methods of apprehension, and improve access to lifesaving technology. And for Alaska, it reauthorizes federal financial support for the hiring, training and equipping of village-level law enforcement officers to ensure an effective safety preference in rural communities.”

“As a former prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand the difference that the COPS program makes in reducing crime and keeping our communities safe,” said Senator Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan legislation would help ensure that local police departments have access to the resources they need to hire and train law enforcement officers, and that this critical program has the support it deserves.”

The COPS Improvement Act would fund the COPS program through 2022 and authorize the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) as a distinct office within the Department of Justice. Specifically, the COPS Improvement Act would fund grants to:

  • Meet emerging law enforcement needs

  • Hire veterans to serve as career law enforcement officers for deployment in community-oriented policing

  • Hire school resource officers and establish local partnerships to combat crime, gangs, active shooter incidents, drug activities, and other problems in elementary and secondary schools

  • Establish and implement innovative programs to reduce and prevent illegal drug manufacturing, distribution, and use

  • Pay for additional community prosecuting programs to handle cases from specific geographic areas and to address counter-terrorism problems and violent crime in local communities

  • Develop new technologies to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in crime prevention and training