Why are Democrats passing police funding bills?

On Thursday, House Democrats agreed billing package aim at blunt The accusations of the Republican Party they faced about the crime, They seek to dispel any perceptions they want Stop funding the police Center Increasing concerns about public safety.

Democrats have tried to strike a delicate balance with this package: While it includes more police grants, it also contains bills that would invest in reform efforts favored by activists such as community violence interventions and first responders who have been specially trained to handle mental health crises. By addressing both, they hope to demonstrate their commitment to law enforcement while also acknowledging progressive concerns about the need for alternatives and accountability.

“There is a lot out there, not just more funding for the police,” says Insha Rahman, vice president of advocacy and partnerships at the Vera Institute of Justice.

Still, measuring marks The Democrats’ latest retreat of their more aggressive criticism of police violence in recent years, which is why many progressives refrained from introducing the package, which seeks to fend off Republican attacks. Make sure Crimes like murder In 2020 and 2021, Republicans indicated that Democrats’ support for police reforms was behind the rise. House Democrats legislation – a byproduct of negotiations between centrist lawmakers such as Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), progressives including Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus including In that President Joyce Petty (D-OH) – is the latest attempt to neutralize these allegations.

Currently, the bills are mostly a letter-sending effort and are unlikely to be taken up by the Senate, where passage of the legislation requires the signature of 10 Republicans. Although one of the bills in the package, the Gottheimer Protection Investment Act, has strong Senate support, it is uncertain whether the upper house will handle the matter alone given everything else is still on its agenda. Regardless, Democrats argue that the bills are an important statement showing their position in an election, and that could broaden their voter appeal.

“I think there was a lot of giving on both sides,” Petty told Vox.

What is included in the public safety deal?

The package contains four bills that promote investment in police and other public safety interventions. They are:

  • Invest to protect the law: Sponsored by Guttheimer, this legislation will enable the Department of Justice to award $250 million in federal grants to police departments with 125 or fewer officers over the next five years.

According to a statement by Jayapal and Omar, the progressives were able to obtain some concessions, including targeting these funds for smaller police departments, using the funds for de-escalation training, and using the funds to collect data on police departments. Progressives hoped these changes would ensure new spending goes to understaffed departments to complete essential tasks, reduce incidents of police brutality, and allow Congress to better assess the effectiveness of individual departments.

This Act was passed 360-64.

  • The law of breaking the cycle of violence: Sponsored by Representative Stephen Horsford (D-NV), the legislation would require the Department of Health and Human Services to award $5 billion in federal grants for community violence intervention programs over an eight-year period.

This law was passed 220-207.

  • Victim’s Law: Sponsored by Representative Val Demings (D-FL), this bill would establish a new grant program administered by the Department of Justice that provides funding for investigators to investigate murder and violent crimes as well as resources for staff to support victims in these cases. Currently, a high percentage of these crimes are not being resolved, which is an issue this law is trying to address.

This Act was passed 250-178.

  • Mental Health Justice Act: Sponsored by Representative Katie Porter (D-CA), this legislation would establish a Department of Justice-administered grant program dedicated to providing funding for the hiring and training of mental health first responder units who will treat mental health crises in place of the police.

This Act was passed 223-206.

Three of the four bills have strong consensus support across the group, while the Investment for Protection Act has garnered progressive opposition due to the funding it provides to law enforcement. Representative Cory Bush (D-D), an advocate of criminal justice reform, said in a statement that the Gottheimer bill would “add nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to police funding over the next five years without addressing the crisis of police brutality.” The legislation should be separated from the rest of the package.

Beatty acknowledged that many activists may not support the bill, but noted that their input was vital to strengthening protections in the legislation. “I spoke to the activists and said I’m not asking them to agree to that because they have a role: to be activists,” she said. “But for their insistence, we didn’t have that many barriers.”

The shortcomings of this public safety package

The House vote on public safety bills comes after previous talks on police reform collapsed, and as The Democrats are starting to shift Far from the convictions of several powerful members of the police in 2020.

previously, Democrats Police Justice Act, which would have limited the qualified immunity protections that police had failed to advance in the Senate because of Republican opposition. Since then, party members have distanced themselves from focusing on reforms due to concerns that rhetoric about “defunding the police” Harm lawmakers in combat zones in recent elections.

This led to the kinds of compromises that appeared in the last package, which disappointed many activists.

“The policing bills on the table now do nothing to address police accountability,” Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, said in a statement. “Encouraging more ‘training’ without any real accountability measures is a bogus solution that won’t make our communities safer.”

Some of the measures activists are calling for, such as policies that would strip federal funding from the police, have yet to receive the congressional or executive branch support needed to become law. Their criticism of Democrats’ new bills is also supported by research, which has found, for example, that measures such as increased data collection have clashed. Problems like not reporting.

At this point, these additional measures are likely the most House Democrats can do with the tight margins they have and the tight schedule they face before the election. With less than two months left until the end of the semester, this might be their last chance to pass anything on about it. For many moderates, doing so was important to send a message, even if it was the wrong message for activists who had supported the party for so long.

“Today, we’ll see with our own eyes who actually wants to fund the police,” Representative Demings, a former Orlando police chief and a Democratic candidate for the Florida Senate, said in a speech Thursday.

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