Blunt Highlights Missouri Law Enforcement, First Responder Priorities in Government Funding Bill
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, announced several Missouri priorities that he has worked to include in the following FY2022 funding bills: Homeland Security; Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Organizations; and Financial Services and Public Administration.
“With violent crime on the rise across the country, it’s more important than ever to ensure law enforcement has the resources they need to keep our communities safe,” Blunt said. “This bill invests in programs and policies to support police and fire departments, including grant programs that help departments purchase equipment, conduct training and hire staff. The bill increases support for the investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases. He supports better coordination between local, state and federal law enforcement to better combat major drug trafficking organizations. We are grateful to all law enforcement officers and first responders, and their families, who face danger every day to keep others safe.
Here are Missouri’s priorities included in the funding bills:
• Staffing for the Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Program (SAFER) and Firefighters Assistance Grants (AFG): The bill provides $360 million each for the SAFER and AFG programs. The SAFER program provides funds to hire firefighters, and the AFG program provides equipment for firefighters. Both programs help Missouri first responders fill the gaps to provide firefighters with resources to support their communities. This year, and in previous years, Blunt sent a letter to the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee defending the SAFER and AFG programs.
• Nonprofit Security Grants Program: The legislation provides a total of $645 million for the state’s Homeland Security grant program, including $125 million for nonprofit security grants, an increase of $35 million from the fiscal year 2021 levels. The bill includes an additional $125 million for nonprofit safety grants under the Urban Areas Safety Initiative program, a $35 million increase from the levels in fiscal 2021. Blunt is a longtime supporter of the Nonprofit Security Grant program, which provides financial support to nonprofit organizations at high risk of terrorist attack, such as religious and cultural centers, to improve the physical security.
Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Organizations:
• Ozarks Health and Life Sciences Center: The legislation provides a total of $50 million from the CJS and Labor/Health and Human Services appropriations bills for the Ozarks Health and Life Science Center to facilitate health research and education programs, Medicine and Science on the campus of Missouri State University (MSU) in Springfield, Missouri. This new space will be used for classrooms, labs, and offices to support academic research and programs in STEM, health, and life sciences, to help accommodate increased science enrollment at MSU, and meet the needs of educational and scientific research.
• Southeastern Missouri State University Law Enforcement Academy: The legislation provides $1.5 million to improve and expand training, including de-escalation training, for Southeast Missouri State University Law Enforcement Academy students and continuing education programs.
• Child Abuse Assistance Program: The legislation provides $33 million for the Victims of Child Abuse program, an increase of $3 million from fiscal year 2021. Blunt’s bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Victims of Child Abuse Act (VOCAA) was signed into law in 2018. The bill provides funding for child advocacy centers that serve child victims of abuse and help law enforcement hold perpetrators accountable.
• John R. Justice (JRJ) Program: The legislation provides $4 million for the JRJ program, an increase of $2 million from fiscal year 2021. This program provides loan repayment assistance to public defenders and state attorneys who agree to stay employed as public defenders and prosecutors for at least three years. The JRJ program eases the financial burden faced by new lawyers who wish to pursue a career in public service.
• Regional Innovation Program (RI): The bill provides $45 million, a $7 million increase from last year’s level, for the RI program, which provides operational support to local innovators and entrepreneurs to commercialize new ideas and technologies. The grants, administered by the Economic Development Administration, help translate innovative ideas into local job growth.
• De-escalation technologies: The legislation includes language acknowledging the importance of virtual reality de-escalation training and the use of human remote restraints to help law enforcement defuse confrontations with non-compliant subjects and avoid the potentially lethal use of force, and stating that Byrne Justice Assistance Grant funding can be used for these purposes.
• Midwest Regional Task Force: The legislation directs the United States Marshals Service to consider regions, such as the Midwest, when considering the creation of new Regional Fugitive Task Forces (RFTFs). Kansas City, Mo., St. Louis, Mo., and other Midwestern cities suffered a sudden spike in violent crime last summer, and a congressional-funded RFTF for the Midwest would help provide the resources needed to capture fugitives and reduce violent crime.
Financial services and public administration:
• Truman Library: The legislation includes $11.5 million for the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum to transform its grounds into an important national heritage site and an engaging resource for the local community by reimagining, repurposing and reconfiguring the property surrounding the Truman Library.
• High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program:The bill includes $296.6 million for the Blunt-supported HIDTA program, an increase of $6.6 million from fiscal year 2021. HIDTA is an effective and innovative initiative that provides critical assistance to federal agencies , state and local law enforcement agencies in the fight against major drug trafficking organizations across the country. Midwest HIDTA is located in Kansas City, Missouri, and supports HIDTA law enforcement initiatives in six states.
• Drug-Free Communities Program: The legislation provides $106 million for the Drug-Free Communities program, an increase of $4 million from fiscal year 2021. This program helps fund community coalitions that work to prevent youth substance use .
• Harry S Truman Scholarship Foundation: The legislation provides $2.5 million for the Harry S Truman Scholarship Foundation, an increase from fiscal year 2021. The Harry S Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 in as the only federal memorial to President Truman supporting higher education for young people engaged in careers in public service.