Rep. Axne Presents New Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Law Enforcement Resources with Altoona Police Chief

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Today, Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03) joined Iowa police chiefs and local officials to share details about its legislation, the Invest to protect lawwhich will bring more federal resources to rural and suburban police departments to help with training, retention, recruitment and operations.

Representative Axne joined Altoona Pro Tem Mayor Jeremy Boka, Altoona Police Chief Greg Stallman, Polk County Sheriff Kevin Schneider, Ankeny Police Chief Darius Potts and Newton Police Chief and President of the Association of Chiefs of Police of the ‘Iowa Rob Burdess while announcing his new legislation to the Altoona Police Department.

“Across central and southwestern Iowa, our law enforcement officers go to work every day to protect Iowans and help keep our communities safe. These agents deserve the same access to federal grants as agents in big cities, but there is no dedicated way for our federal support to reach agents in our rural areas,” said Representative Axne. “Our bill will change that by giving rural Iowa a crucial head start in getting the resources it needs to support its police officers. As Co-Chair of the Rural Reinvestment Task Force and a staunch supporter of our first responders, I am proud to help introduce this bill today.

“The Invest to Protect Act of 2022 helps level the playing field and provides the resources our departments and agents need,” said Newton Police Chief and President of the Iowa Association of Chiefs of Police Rob Burdess. “With this legislation, we will no longer be in competition with large metropolitan areas that do not represent all of Iowa’s law enforcement agencies. This legislation will help chiefs and sheriffs in Iowa put more cops on the streets, fund overtime, and provide retention bonuses to keep officers in our communities.

“I have first-hand knowledge – we are the largest sheriff’s office in the state and we still qualify for it,” said Polk County Sheriff Kevin Schneider. “It shows you that we don’t have a chance against some of the biggest agencies in the country.”

Context:

Currently, two of the Justice Department’s largest grant programs are open to all police departments and sheriff’s offices in the United States, pitting smaller police departments against larger metropolitan areas when applying for funding. Between 2012 and 2018, law enforcement agencies in South Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, Iowa, and Montana applied for a total of 577 community-oriented policing grants ( COPS), but less than a third of these requests have been approved.

In 2021, law enforcement departments in Iowa received 9 COPS grants compared to California’s 41, or approximately 350% more funding overall.

the Investment law to protect would establish a grant program for local police departments with fewer than 200 officers, which would include all but the largest law enforcement departments in Iowa.

Grants would be available for police and sheriff departments with fewer than 200 officers for a variety of investments, including:

  • Safety, de-escalation, domestic violence response and other types of training
  • Officer recruitment and retention, including signing and retention bonuses
  • Mental Health Resources for Officers
  • Body cameras, secure storage and other equipment
  • Overtime and staff costs

In addition, the legislation will cut red tape by reducing overly bureaucratic reporting requirements for measures that often do not apply to small rural areas.

Administrative, management and reporting requirements that rural law enforcement officials have reported as difficult and onerous to meet often result in police departments not being able to apply because grants are not designed with the realities of their work.

The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Association of Sheriffs and the National Coalition of Soldiers.

The legislation was formally introduced in the U.S. House last month by Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), John Rutherford (FL-04), Axne and 35 other co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle.

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