Gettysburg Times - 

Mar 28, 2022

Mastriano, Robinson propose legislation to fund the police

Senators Doug Mastriano (PA-33) and Devlin Robinson (PA-37) announced a plan to introduce legislation that will use $100 million in federal funds to establish the “Law Enforcement Recovery Grant, according to a joint release from the two elected officials.

The grant program will assist agencies that have faced new challenges and stressors brought on by COVID-19, according to the release.

Police departments, offices of the sheriff, and the Pennsylvania State Police will have the opportunity to apply for the grant funding, according to the release.

“Agencies in urban, suburban, and rural parts of Pennsylvania currently face significant officer vacancies that are projected to continue to worsen with increasing retirements and a tight labor market in the wake of COVID. Under the new grant program, agencies will be eligible to apply for grant awards to fund strategies and incentives to attract new recruits and retain current officers,” the release reads.

The rise of violent crime and increase in trafficking of deadly drugs such as fentanyl since 2020 has created an additional burden on depleted agencies, according to the release. Eligible agencies will have the opportunity to apply for grant money to invest in technology, improve equipment, and eliminate evidence testing backlogs.

The grant program will be administered by the Commission on Crime and Delinquency who will determine awards for applicant agencies, the release reads. To ensure transparency and oversight of the grant program, annual public reports will be required to detail how the grant money was used by the receiving agencies.

“There is a growing bipartisan chorus to adequately fund our law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of COVID-19”, said Mastriano. “Even President Biden admitted during his State of the Union that the answer to rising violent crime around the nation is to fund the police. Pennsylvania’s law enforcement agencies have been decimated over the last two years with many vacancies and high staff turnover. Additionally, our state has had the third-highest increase in violent crimes in the entire nation in the aftermath of COVID-19. To make matters worse, fatal fentanyl overdose deaths have jumped by 16% since 2020. The law enforcement recovery grant will ensure that agencies across the commonwealth have the resources needed to properly serve their communities and save lives.”

Robinson noted the importance of giving police just consideration.

“It is time to prioritize law enforcement who served on the front lines alongside first responders,” Sen. Robinson said. “We rely on law enforcement to keep our communities safe, and this funding will provide the resources vital to maintaining peace and order.” Read the full article here.