Sen. Josh Hawley was planning to submit a bill to Congress on Wednesday to give the Justice Department the authority to raise the salaries of state and local police forces across the country except in places that have chosen to defund their law enforcement.
The David Dorn Back the Blue Act would allocate $15 billion for the U.S. attorney general to raise police salaries and hire more officers, according to a news release from the Missouri Republican’s office.
“Police departments across the country are under siege — underfunded, facing increased retirement, and struggling to make new hires,” Hawley said.
“But as violence and rioting sweeps across American cities big and small, our courageous law enforcement officers are more vital now than ever.”
He added, “Our officers deserve a raise, not defunding. They deserve our unqualified support.”
Hawley’s bill is named after David Dorn, a retired St. Louis police captain who was killed on June 2 during the looting that followed George Floyd’s death.
Dorn was a 38-year veteran of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
The bill would amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to authorize the allocation of funds.
Hawley’s office cited decreasing morale among officers and a struggle to retain law enforcement officers among the reasons why the bill is necessary.
“I’m hearing officers who are probably the most phenomenal officers in the country, they are by far the most professional I’ve ever worked around, and they’re beaten. And they’re bruised. And they’re down,” Robert Harris, director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, told KCBS-TV in June.
“I had one officer tell me that he feels like a Vietnam soldier returning home to a country that hates him, and that’s not a good place to be.”
Hawley’s legislation would provide departments that need more manpower additional funds to hire more officers and retain those officers.
“A law enforcement agency or organization that receives funds under this part may use the funds for activities and programs to hire and pay additional law enforcement personnel or to retain existing personnel,” the bill reads.
Recipients of the funds would also be able to raise the salaries of their officers up to 110 percent of the local median earnings.
The bill excludes cities that chose to defund their police department by not giving money to any law enforcement agency that has recently cut officer salaries.
“Democratic politicians are bending to radical activists who want to defund the police,” Hawley said. “We should do just the opposite.”
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