New Bill Requires USDOT to Withhold Highway Safety Funds From States Defunding Police
Washington D.C. – Newly introduced legislation would require the Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to withhold certain highway safety funds from states and municipalities that take action to defund its police.
Last month, U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) introduced the Protecting Public Safety and Supporting Law Enforcement Act (S.3960), for consideration in the U.S. Senate.
Specifically, the bill would require the Secretary of Transportation to withhold 5-percent of certain highway safety funds awarded through multiple federal highway safety programs (23 USC 402 and 23 USC 405) from any state that elects to defund or otherwise reduce funding for a law enforcement entity.
It also provides that if any local government elects to defund or otherwise reduce funding for a law enforcement entity, the state is prohibited from making these funds available to that local government.
“While we must address police misconduct, we need to work on solutions that are common sense reforms and support our police officers who work tirelessly to maintain order, keep families safe and protect their communities,” Senator Loeffler said. “This legislation provides additional safeguards for police funding to ensure our law enforcement officers continue to have the resources they need to keep all Americans safe.”
Just this week, the New York City Council voted to slash $1 billion from the New York Police Department’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
The move will cancel a nearly 1,200-person police recruiting class set for next month.
Plus, it will curtail overtime spending and shift the funds into community-based programs including “school safety, crossing guards and homeless outreach,” the City Council said.
Other major cities around the country such as Seattle, WA and Los Angeles, CA, have already taken steps to defund its local police departments and redirect those funds into social programs.
However, leaders in Minneapolis are going further by seeking to replace its entire local law enforcement model.
On June 26, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously (12-0) to move ahead with a proposal to disband the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and replace it with a “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.”
According to the Ordinance, the new Department “will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach.”
“We’re seeing the radical idea of defunding the police play out in real-time in places like Minneapolis and Seattle, and it is frightening. This reckless and dangerous defund effort will jeopardize public safety, create chaos and increase crime,” Senator Loeffler commented.
The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Click HERE to read the entire bill.