Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would establish a $5 million annual fund to use to reward some of the nation’s best police officers.
Cotton’s “Better Community Policing Recognition Act” was introduced the same day President Donald Trump announced an executive order to give additional funding to police departments.
“Police officers are being unfairly demonized across the country as calls for defunding departments grow, despite the fact that the vast majority of officers are selfless public servants who are already underfunded,” Cotton said in a press release posted to his website on June 16.
“It’s never been more important to recognize those officers who exemplify the best kind of policing,” the senator from Arkansas said. “My bill will reward the policemen and women who are working hard to improve their service and win the public’s trust.”
The proposed legislation would apply to local, state, and tribal law enforcement officers, but not federal police, according to the press release.
The $5 million annual fund would be administered by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ).
The press release said that officers who are candidates for the financial awards would be chosen from among about 18,000 different police departments nationwide.
The mission of the bill is “to create an award for law enforcement officers who exemplify best practices to reduce the excessive use of force or improve community policing, and for other purposes,” according to a copy of the legislation on Cotton’s website.
Candidates for the award may be nominated by their own agency or by their state’s attorney general.
The authorization appropriates $5 million from the federal budget annually from 2021 through 2025 to fund the program.
“Officers eligible for these rewards would be those who either exemplify best practices, innovate to reduce the excessive use of force, or improve community policing strategies,” Cotton’s press release said.
At the announcement of his executive order on June 16, President Trump touted the country’s lowest recorded crime rates in recent history and credited good police officers for improving safety in communities.
“We have to give them great respect for what they do,” he said, and called law enforcement one of the most dangerous and difficult jobs on earth.
President Trump said he would not support defunding police departments because it was the people who lived in the distressed areas who needed the police the most.
The President talked about the “tiny percentage” of bad police officers that exist nationwide.
“And nobody wants to get rid of them more than the good and really great police officers,” he said.
“We must support the brave men and women in blue and we must invest more resources in training and community engagement,” President Trump said.
“We’re going to have reform without undermining our law enforcement officers,” the President promised.
President Trump said his executive order would provide federal grants to police departments who are willing to seek independent credentialing to certify they meet the highest standards on use-of-force and de-escalation training.
He also said “choke holds will be banned except if an officer’s life is at risk.”
The President promised that his administration was working with law enforcement leadership to get new less-lethal weapons for officers to use and said that “cost is no object.”
Under the executive order, police departments will have to “share information about credible abuses so that officers with significant issues do not simply move from one police department to the next,” President Trump said.
He said the police officials that he’d meet with had expressed that they needed help to create such a database.
President Trump said his executive order also included federal funding to support police efforts with homeless, the mentally ill, and people with substance abuse problems.
He promised more sources of support for police in the form of well-trained social workers and other such resources.
President Trump called law enforcement officers “selfless” and said “police officers run straight toward this incredible harm. Take the World Trade Center. They ran straight into the Twin Towers on 9/11. Many of them never returned…”
He also talked about the bravery of officers like the ones in Dayton, Ohio who stopped an active shooter and saved numerous lives.
“There will be no more looting or arson,” the President declared, and vowed that those who were caught having done so would face the most serious punishment possible. “The looters have no cause that they’re fighting for.”
He said he would tolerate no more stoking fear and division and said the country needed to bring police and communities together, not pull them apart.
President Trump promised to work with Congress on additional police reform measures.
“We have to break old patterns of failure,” the President said.
He said that the politicians presenting themselves as the solution to the current problem are the ones who caused the problem.
“It’s an attitude and it’s not working,” President Trump said.