WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today voted to pass a package of public safety bills that would help local law enforcement agencies reduce crime, improve their crisis response and create safer communities.
“Passage of this legislative package advances robust solutions to a range of public safety challenges in Maryland and across the country. By making meaningful investments in local law enforcement agencies and including critical reforms and accountability measures, this legislation would provide the resources and training first responders need to better protect themselves and all those they are tasked to serve,” said Congressman Sarbanes.
He continued, “Importantly, this legislation invests in de-escalation programs that would strengthen communities’ response to a unique set of emergencies including mental health and substance use disorder crises. To break the cycle of violence in our communities, it would also fund social services and proven intervention programs like those we’ve successfully introduced in Maryland.”
He concluded, “These bills align with my long-term goals for Maryland, such as addressing the root causes of violence, properly responding to individuals in crisis and deepening the relationships between law enforcement and those they protect. I will continue working to create safer, stronger communities.”
This package includes four bills that expand the capacity of local law enforcement agencies to respond to emergencies while safeguarding the civil and human rights of all community members:
The Invest to Protect Act (H.R. 6448) would provide new resources for local law enforcement agencies to recruit and retain qualified officers and offer critical trainings about de-escalation and responding to incidents involving domestic violence or individuals with substance use disorders.
To improve the local law enforcement response to mental health crises, the Mental Health Justice Act (H.R. 1368) would provide grants to help communities hire mental health professionals to arrive on scene appropriately unarmed and ready to help.
Evidence-based community violence intervention programs designed to interrupt the cycles of violence and retaliation have proven to be highly effective at reducing rates of violence and saving lives. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act (H.R. 4118) would bolster community outreach programs, hospital-based violence intervention programs, group violence intervention strategies and violence interruption and crisis management initiatives.
The VICTIM Act (H.R. 5768) would help local law enforcement agencies close cases and serve justice by hiring and training more detectives and upgrading the necessary equipment to investigate homicides, rapes, sexual assaults, kidnappings and non-fatal shootings.
This legislation builds on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which Congressman Sarbanes voted to pass earlier this year to reduce the incidence of gun violence tragedies and invest in mental and behavioral health services.