ATLANTA — Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) has introduced a bipartisan bill to boost funding for state and local law enforcement agencies to fill vacancies.
This comes after we told you how several metro Atlanta law enforcement agencies are facing severe staff shortages.
It’s a problem impacting law enforcement agencies around the country.
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The bipartisan measure dubbed the Filling Public Safety Vacancies Act would provide a one-time emergency boost in funding through the COPS Hiring Program for law enforcement agencies to hire and rehire police officers and sheriffs’ deputies.
“I heard from police chiefs and sheriffs across the state they’re having difficulty hiring and retaining personnel and that means that 911 call could go without a swift response,” Ossoff said. “What this is all about is the effects on the community. If someone hears gunshots outside of their home and calls 911, they need to be able to count on a swift police response.”
Ossoff said when speaking with Georgia law enforcement agencies about staff shortages, some pointed to pay as a key barrier.
“Much of this is about being able to offer competitive salaries and for police departments and sheriffs’ offices to hire the most qualified capable recruits, they’ve got to be able to make competitive offers when it comes to salary compensation,” Ossoff said.
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The bill also establishes a new vetting requirement for officers that includes background checks and mental health evaluations.
Federal law does not currently require law enforcement agencies to perform background checks on new recruits through the COPS Hiring program, Ossoff’s office said.
The bill has bipartisan support with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) as a co-sponsor.
“The men and women in blue who dutifully protect and serve our communities need our support,” Blackburn said in a statement. “In Tennessee and across our nation, I have heard from several community sheriffs who are low on the manpower and resources needed to thoroughly do their jobs. This bipartisan legislation with Senator Ossoff takes a critical step toward strengthening hiring and bolstering our law enforcement community.”
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