Casten votes to pass Public Safety package of laws in Congress
Casten votes to pass a package of four Public Safety bills to provide Life-Saving Mental Health services, fund local Law Enforcement, protect victims, and break the cycle of violence
Congressman Sean Casten voted on Thursday Sept. 22, 2022 to pass four public safety bills through the House of Representatives.
This package included the VICTIM Act, as well as three bills co-sponsored by Casten; The Invest and Protect Act, the Mental Health Justice Act, and the Break the Cycle of Violence Act.
“Illinoisans deserve to live in a safe community where they can thrive,” said Congressman Casten.
“I am proud to have voted for these bills to give law enforcement in the 6th District the tools they need to prevent crime and serve justice, while also prioritizing the safety of victims and those experiencing mental health crises in our community. This package builds stronger and healthier relationships between law enforcement and the people they serve, which will prevent crime, save lives and advance justice.”
The Invest to Protect Act provides grants to smaller law enforcement agencies to fund de-escalation training, access to mental health resources, recruitment, and retention.
Specifically, it would:
- Allow DOJ to give preference to agencies applying for funds for de-escalation training.
- Require DOJ to evaluate barriers in the application process and provide technical assistance to agencies applying for grants.
- Require disclosure of the use of grant funds for signing or retention bonuses.
- Allow DOJ to audit any grantees to ensure funds are used appropriately.
- Require DOJ to ensure the grants are not duplicative of existing grant programs.
The Mental Health Justice Act sends unarmed mental health professionals to respond to mental health crises in our neighborhoods. This is a crucial action to save lives from potentially fatal encounters with armed police officers. Specifically, this bill would:
- Create a grant program to pay for hiring, training, salary, benefits and additional expenses for mental health provider first responder units.
- Provide expertise through technical assistance from the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division at the DOJ and from SAMHSA.
- Create mental health first responder units to help reduce violence against individuals with mental illnesses and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The VICTIM Act provides grant funding to state, tribal, or local law enforcement agencies and prosecuting offices to:
- hire, retain, or train detectives to investigate homicides, rapes, sexual assaults, kidnappings, and non-fatal shootings;
- train personnel to address the needs of victims and family members;
- acquire, upgrade, or replace investigative or evidence processing technology or equipment and train evidence processing personnel;
- ensure victim services are funded, staffed, and trained and provide resources to victims and their family members; and
- develop competitive and evidence-based programs to improve clearance rates and victim services.
Lastly, the Break the Cycle of Violence Act builds on progress made in the American Rescue Plan. It awards grants for coordinated community violence intervention initiatives in communities disproportionately impacted by homicides and community violence. HHS must also establish several related entities, including
- an Office of Community Violence Intervention to administer programs and activities related to violence intervention;
- the Community Violence Intervention Advisory Committee to advise and assist the office and HHS; and
- the National Community Violence Response Center to provide training and technical assistance, coordinate research, and develop data collection policies
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