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Tom Rice looking to increase rural police officer pay
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Tom Rice looking to increase rural police officer pay

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Congressman Tom Rice is looking to increase the number of rural police officers and raise their pay levels.

Rice, a Republican representing most of the Pee Dee and Grand Strand regions of the state, and Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat, introduced the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act of 2022.

“Police officers keep all kinds of communities safe, but those in rural and low-income communities often face barriers to doing their jobs effectively and efficiently,” Rice said. “I’ve met with law enforcement officers in all eight counties of the 7th District to hear how we can make our law enforcement programs work better for communities in South Carolina and across the Nation. The COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act will ensure all communities are well staffed with officers who can meet the needs of the community, are trained properly, and paid a fair wage. I’m proud that this bill nearly triples the amount appropriated from last year for this program and it provides more funding than this program has been appropriated in a decade. We can’t merely talk about the need for improving law enforcement relations, budgets, and trainings. This legislation delivers on those calls for thoughtful and targeted solutions.”

“South Carolina’s sheriffs are excited to see this important initiative introduced. A number of sheriffs’ offices across the state—including small, rural agencies—have successfully used these funds to enhance the level of public safety provided in their communities. We hope this bi-partisan legislation is embraced and enacted quickly,” said Jarrod Bruder, executive director of South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.

The bill would reauthorize the COPS on the Beat Grant Program for the next 10 years, expand access to rural communities, allow for grants to be used to increase wages for officers in low-income communities, and create a stand-alone COPS office within the Department of Justice.

The program had $386 million this fiscal year. The bill would increase the funding to nearly $1.05 billion.

The bill also would require the Government Accountability Office to file a report at the mid-point of the program and the conclusion to determine: how representative law enforcement agencies are of their communities, the percentage that lives in the jurisdiction served, average pay compared to cost of living of jurisdiction and legislative and administrative recommendations for improving these data points.

The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Jared Golden (D-ME), John Katko (R-NY), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Burgess Owens (R-UT), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Young Kim (R-CA) and Ron Kind (D-WI).

The Community Oriented Policing Services Office is a component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation’s state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources. It awards grants to hire community policing professionals, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement. Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to help advance community policing.

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