Biden signs law to help states recruit law enforcement officers - TAI News
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President Joe Biden speaks at a memorial service to honor law enforcement officers who’ve lost their lives in the past year, during National Police Week ceremonies at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

On May 24, President Joe Biden signed the Recruit and Retain Act, legislation that is designed to bolster recruitment efforts by local law enforcement agencies.

“Police officers work tirelessly every day to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods and communities. This bipartisan legislation will help police departments do their work more safely and effectively by helping them recruit and retain additional police officers by making better use of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program,” Biden said in a statement. “This important legislation will add new flexibility to COPS to help police departments attract officers they need and hire more diverse officers from the communities they serve.”

The Recruit and Retain Act gives the Department of Justice the authority to expand the existing COPS program by administering grants for local agencies. The agencies can use the grants to assist in hiring new police officers and improve their existing recruitment efforts.

The legislation had the support of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a professional organization representing the police chiefs of the largest cities in the United States. In a February 2023 letter to Congress, Eddie Garcia, chief of the Dallas Police Department, said the proposed bill was critical.

Michigan is among the states in which law enforcement agencies have experienced ongoing recruitment issues.

The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, which certifies police officers, said in 2023 that there were about 18,500 police officers currently at work, down from 23,000 officers in 2001.

In response to the problem, agencies have mandated overtime shifts and cut back on traffic patrols.

Law enforcement agencies around the country have faced recruitment shortfalls as the overall unemployment rate has declined over the last four years.

Biden has proposed a “Safer America Plan,” which would provide funds to hire an additional 100,000 officers who would be involved in community policing projects and other outreach campaigns designed to prevent violence.

In 2022, Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which increased regulation of gun sales and provided financial support for state programs to reduce gun crime. The American Rescue Plan that Biden signed in 2021 also sent funds to cities and states to be used for public safety issues.

Data shows that violent crime across the country has declined over the last two years after spiking during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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