Biden signs bills to aid cops and first responders
President Joe Biden signed three bipartisan bills that expand benefits for the nations law enforcement officers and first responders along with the communities they serve.
Biden signed into law, the Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021, the Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support Counseling Act and the Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act at the White House Thursday.
The bills expand benefits for first responders injured in the line of duty and offer more counseling resources to police officers.
"Today’s investment and the bills I’m about to sign share goals of law enforcement and first responders: be the protectors and the partners our communities need," Biden said.
The Protect America’s First Responders Act, Biden said, helps those disabled or killed in the line of duty. It includes disability and education benefits and expands those who are eligible.
The Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support Counseling Act or the COPS Counseling Act, improves mental health resources for the law enforcement community.
"It is an obligation to help" law enforcement recover from the "invisible wounds" that cause mental health issues, he said.
The Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act which Biden also signed is named for two Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers who were killed while investigating drug cartels in Mexico.
"It sends a message to drug cartels, terrorists, and criminals — wherever they operate — if you attack our agents, you will not escape our justice," he said.
In closing Biden made a plea to Congress to "come together" and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, agreement on the legislation was postponed earlier this year.
"That’s next," he said.
The bill signing comes as the Justice Department said on Thursday it’s giving $139 million to police departments across the U.S. as part of a grant program that would bring on more than 1,000 new officers.
The grant funding comes through the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and will be awarded to 183 law enforcement agencies across the country and in U.S. territories.
The funding is meant to help police departments reduce crime and to encourage community policing.