“The Invest to Protect Act will help these police departments with recruitment and retention so they have enough officers to serve. These are important jobs that make good careers in public service. In honor of Police Week and the sacrifices our officers have made to protect us, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me and Senator Grassley in supporting the Invest to Protect Act.”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) spoke on the floor today in honor of Police Week, calling on her colleagues to pass her bill, the Invest to Protect Act, which will set aside crucial funding specifically for small police departments across the country.
As the former top law enforcement official in Nevada, Senator Cortez Masto has been a leading advocate in the Senate for our police officers and is part of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus. Last year, she secured historic funding for the Byrne JAG grant program, the leading source of criminal justice funding in the country. Her bipartisan bills to combat the crisis of law enforcement suicide and provide mental health resources to police officers have been signed into law by presidents of both parties. Cortez Masto recently reintroduced the BADGES for Native Communities Act to support the Bureau of Indian Affairs with law enforcement recruitment and retention.
Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
M. President, we observe Police Week every year to honor the men and women who risk their lives each day for the safety of our communities. As we go about our daily lives, our police officers are the ones protecting us and our families.
They know that this job puts their lives in danger. And their families know that every day when their loved one leaves for work, they may not come home. It’s a sacrifice for the individual getting up and leaving that house, and it is a sacrifice for the loved ones watching that individual leave.
Why do I know that? Because I’m married 25 years to a federal law enforcement officer now retired. And I remember in the middle of the night when he was on call, and he got that call, and his boots were by the side of the bed, slips his feet into them, and walks out that door.
And every spouse, every loved one who sees them leave has always in the back of their mind, “Are they going to come home?”
And so, this is important that we recognize the men and women who are representing and protecting our communities every single day.
I’ve been honored to work with Nevada’s police officers throughout my career. I have worked with police departments across my state to crack down on crime, prosecute offenders, and keep Nevadans safe. Not only have I worked in my state as a prosecutor, I’ve worked here in the District of Columbia, in the United States Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor.
I’ve witnessed the hard work and dedication of our police officers firsthand, whether you’re a state police officer, a local city or county police officer, or a federal officer. I have worked alongside them. I know what they do day in and day out. And that’s why my role in the Senate will always be to fight for our law enforcement.
It’s been my priority to listen to the needs of police departments throughout Nevada, both big and small, to ensure I’m doing everything I can to get them what they need to protect our communities. That includes securing funding for more resources, improved technology, and better training for our officers.
Last year, alongside Senator Grassley, I was proud to make sure Congress passed the biggest increase in Byrne JAG funding in ten years. And to help put an end to tragic law enforcement suicides, I introduced and passed legislation to increase data collection on suicide and support peer counseling programs that can improve police officers’ mental health.
Now, while these investments are so crucial to ensuring our officers are prepared for the job, far too many smaller police departments just can’t compete with their larger counterparts for resources. I know this from our law enforcement agencies in my rural communities in Nevada. Our law enforcement communities in our rural areas, which are much smaller, have to really fight for resources that they need. Over 90% of police departments nationally, including several in Nevada, have fewer than 200 full-time officers.
That’s why I’ve worked with Senator Grassley to introduce the Invest to Protect Act. This legislation would set aside grant funding specifically for smaller local police departments, including Tribal law enforcement, to ensure they can access the resources they need to keep our families safe.
Police officers in both Northern and Southern Nevada have told me about how hard it is to do their jobs when they’re short on personnel. They’re stretched too thin, and that makes it harder for them to protect our communities and their own lives.
The Invest to Protect Act will help these police departments with recruitment and retention so they have enough officers to serve their communities. These are important jobs that make good careers in public service.
So, in honor of Police Week and the sacrifices our officers have made to protect us, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me and Senator Grassley in supporting the Invest to Protect Act.