House Democrats passed a package of bills on Thursday aimed at bolstering police funding and public safety after Republican lawmakers accused them of being soft on crime amid a surge in violent crime across the United States.
Lawmakers voted to pass four bills as part of the package: the Mental Health Justice Act of 2022, the Invest to Protect Act of 2022, the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, and the VICTIM Act of 2022.
The Mental Health Justice Act of 2022, sponsored by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), creates a grant program for states and local governments to train and dispatch mental health professionals to respond to emergencies involving behavioral health, as opposed to police.
Elsewhere, the Invest to Protect Act of 2022, sponsored by moderate Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), raises funding for smaller police departments that employ fewer than 200 law enforcement officers.
The Break the Cycle of Violence Act, sponsored by Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), provides grants to fund community violence intervention initiatives in areas with higher rates of homicides and community violence.
Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), who introduced the VICTIM Act, called its passing a “major win for America’s public safety,” and said it passed the U.S. House with support from Democrats and Republicans.
The bill provides funding to local police departments to hire victim support personnel along with investigators to aid in solving unsolved homicides and violent crimes.
Specifically, the legislation would “establish a Department of Justice grant program to hire, train, and retain detectives and victim services personnel to investigate shootings and support victims,” Demings said in a statement.