Calling the Defund The Police movement 'absolutely irresponsible', Democrat Congressman Anthony Brindisi stood outside the Utica Police Department on Monday to introduce legislation that would double the amount of federal grant money available to police across the country for a program dubbed COPS.

The Department of Justice's COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) Hiring Program (CHP) is available to police departments nationwide to hire new officers, rehire officers who were laid off due to budgetary constraints, increase community policing and support crime prevention efforts, according to Brindisi's office. The first-term Democrat says in short, it helps departments recruit, hire and train their officers.

''We have a three-pronged crisis right now that is going to demand a surge in federal COPS grant funds to give police departments the tools, training, and teams they'll need to serve and protect,'' he said. ''COVID-19 has decimated local budgets in my district and in districts across the country, retirements in police departments also loom and filling those positions will require dollars. Even more, many communities are now conceiving what their own departments will look like in the future, and we have to help them fund that process.''

''Like I said during the news conference, we want to have well-funded police departments so they can provide proper training, the proper equipment, and the community policing programs which have really shown to help improve the relationship between police and the communities they're charged with protecting and serving. And, I've gone even one step further to introduce legislation that' bi-partisan that would punish cities that defund their police departments,'' Brindisi told WIBX 950 following Monday's news conference outside UPD headquarters.

When asked if he'd reached out to President Trump or the White House seeking support for the bill, Brindisi said he hadn't yet, but believed the President would be a supporter of this legislation.

''Well I can tell you in their budget proposal they did ask for an increase in the COPS grant program, not quite as much of an increase that I'm asking for, but I know this is something the White House would get behind because they've already asked for an increase in the program,'' Brindisi said.

Utica Police Deputy Chief Ed Noonan expects his department will lose more than a dozen UPD veterans to retirement and said the training is important because when they go, they take with them their years of experience on the job.

''Anytime you lose a veteran officer you lose their time on the street, their ability to de-escalate situations, their life experience. You lose all that knowledge,'' Noonan said. ''Oftentimes, an officer will ride the same zone - the same neighborhood - throughout the duration of their career. Essentially, you're losing a member of the neighborhood, they know people in the neighborhood and the neighborhood knows them.''

Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol was also in attendance during the announcement Monday, saying his office had received COPS grant funding in the past, not under his tenure but during the previous administration. Maciol also said when he worked for the Whitesboro Police Department, it had received grant funding from the program.



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