U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver II backed four public safety bills that will invest in violence intervention programs, provide funding for mental health professionals in law enforcement, strengthen support services for families and victims of crimes, and provide support for departments in communities with limited resources to hire and retain law enforcement personnel.
All four bills were passed by the House of Representatives with bipartisan support and will now go to the Senate to be taken up for debate.
“With this public safety package, the House of Representatives is finally taking steps to fund community violence intervention and prevention programs,” Congressman Cleaver said in a release. “I believe this package of public safety legislation takes a holistic approach—through increased mental health services, victim support services, and additional funding for critical community violence prevention programs—that will lead to safer communities in the Fifth Congressional District of Missouri and all throughout the nation.”
The legislative package passed by the House consisted of four bills: The Mental Health Justice Act, VICTIM Act, Break the Cycle of Violence Act, and Invest to Protect Act. The bills would grant millions of dollars in funding to local law enforcement with accountability measures attached. All four of the bills will work in tandem to:
- Create a grant program to hire, train and retain mental health professionals in local law enforcement agencies to respond appropriately when someone is in a mental health crisis or related situation.
- Award grants to community-based nonprofit organizations and local governments for outreach programs staffed by violence intervention and prevention specialists, and hospital-based programs that would provide counseling, peer support, and social services to patients recovering from gunshot wounds and violent injuries. As well as, group violence intervention strategies and initiatives to foster violence interruption.
- Create a Community Violence Intervention Advisory Committee to provide advice and guidance to community violence prevention programs
- Direct the Department of Labor to award $1.5 billion for Improving Approaches for Communities to Thrive (IMPACT) grants to provide job training, apprenticeships, and other workforce experiences for youth in communities disproportionately impacted by violence.
- Fund grant programs to local law enforcement agencies with fewer than 125 officers to be utilized for de-escalation training, access to mental health resources, recruitment, and retention—and allows the Department of Justice to give preference to agencies applying for funds for de-escalation training.
Congressman Cleaver said the legislation is a step in the right direction but more work will need to be done to effectively create a change in communities dealing with violence.
“Moving forward, we must continue working to get weapons of war off the street, prevent dangerous individuals from obtaining deadly firearms, fund mental health and substance use treatment services, reinvest in underserved communities, and invest in public schools and workforce training programs that keep our youth on the right track,” Congressman Cleaver said.