Gottheimer pitches spending bill to Newton Police: ‘Invest, not defund’

Law enforcement. The Congressman came to Sussex County to promote the bipartisan Invest to Protect Act that he said will the help Newton Police Department, and law enforcement in other small towns across North Jersey.

| 15 Feb 2022 | 11:34

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) visited the Newton Police Department on Monday to highlight new bipartisan legislation, the Invest to Protect Act, which he said provides critical funding to police departments in smaller towns across Northern New Jersey for recruitment, training, and mental health. “And it sends an important message: we want our police officers to feel supported, especially when they are struggling with the realities of their profession. We want them to know that we have their backs and that they are appreciated for the job they do,” he said.

Newton Police Chief Steven Van Nieuwland said most of the police departments in Sussex County do not qualify for major funding because of their size, and that the Invest to Protect Act would relieve some of their financial burden. “Police departments are adapting to modern policing standards, which is essential for departments to continuing being effective,” he said. “But it is important that we can do so without putting a massive strain on our town budgets. I want to thank Congressman Gottheimer for addressing this gap in funding.”

The bipartisan bill’s lead Republican cosponsor is a former sheriff, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford (Florida-4). It has 17 Republican and 29 Democratic sponsors, and has been endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriff’s Association, National Troopers Coalition, New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association, New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and New Jersey State Troopers Non-Commissioned Officers Association.

“In today’s day and age, we too often hear rhetoric rather than reality about law enforcement,” said Daniel Oliveira, President of the New Jersey State Troopers Non-Commissioned Officers Association. He said the legislation “creates a commonsense approach to investing wisely in law enforcement, which will help to better law enforcement throughout the country.”

Officer support

The money will be used in the following areas:

● OFFICER TRAINING in officer safety, de-escalation, and domestic violence response. Offset overtime pay included in the legislation will allow officers to train without reducing the number of officers on duty or straining department budgets.

● BODY-WORN CAMERAS to hold everyone accountable — while also providing much-needed funding for data storage and data security.

● OFFICER RECRUITMENT AND EDUCATION so that small departments can expand, keep their existing officers, and help officers pursue graduate degrees in public health, social work, and mental health.

● MENTAL HEALTH resources to support all officers.

“Cutting to the bone only weakens any profession,” said Gottheimer, a member of the bipartisan Law Enforcement Caucus. “It pushes good people out, it diminishes the overall quality, and fuels a race to the bottom. That’s especially true in law enforcement. The only way to make a department better is to invest wisely, in training and tools, in recruiting and retaining the best talent, and ensuring they can be involved in the community. That’s how you keep families safe. In short, when it comes to law enforcement, you need to invest to protect,”

“If you want to make something better, and there’s always room for improvement, whether that’s a road or a school, you don’t get there by cutting – or defunding,” Gottheimer said. “You need to make smart, targeted investments. In other words, you need to invest, not defund.”

“Most of the police departments in Sussex County do not qualify for major funding because of their size, so now the Invest to Protect Act would relieve some of the financial burden that otherwise would be on our towns. Police departments are adapting to modern policing standards which is essential for departments to continuing being effective, but it is important that we can do so without putting a massive strain on our town budgets.” Newton Police Chief Steven Van Nieuwland