U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, AL-07, yesterday on Thursday, voted to deliver new federal resources to break the cycle of violence and build safer communities in Alabama. This robust package of four bills—which passed the House of Representatives today—will support community-based non-violence programs, local law enforcement agencies, and especially rural police departments with new tools to reduce violent crime and keep Alabamians safe. The package also includes critical investments in mental health and provisions to bolster police training and accountability.
“Making our communities safer for our children and families has always been a top priority of mine in Congress, and that’s exactly what this legislation would do,” said Rep. Sewell. “Together, these bills would ensure that our local community organizations, local law enforcement, and especially rural police departments have the tools they need to keep Alabamians safe. With House passage of these bills, we’re one step closer to delivering deeply needed investments to prevent crime, boost community violence prevention, strengthen police accountability, and save lives.”
The Democratic House’s public safety package consists of four bills:
- Break the Cycle of Violence Act: Building on the American Rescue Plan’s life-saving investments in effective, evidence-based community violence prevention solutions – helping community organizations and local governments:
- Hire violence intervention and prevention specialists
- Offer intensive counseling, peer support and mediation services to survivors
- Provide culturally-responsive social services for Alabamians at the highest risk for involvement in community violence
- Invest to Protect Act: Funding rural Alabama police agencies through grants to retain and recruit officers, reduce the use of force and invest in strong accountability measures, including de-escalation training; improved response to substance use disorders; improved support for survivors of domestic violence; and promoting a duty of care.
- VICTIM Act: Bolstering Alabama law enforcement agencies’ capacity to investigate and close cases of violent crime through new funding to:
- Hire and train detectives to investigate homicides, sexual assaults and other violent crime
- Ensure victim services are funded, staffed and trained to address the needs of survivors and family members
- Acquire and upgrade investigative technology to better process evidence
- Mental Health Justice Act: Saving lives by supporting the deployment of unarmed mental health professionals when responding to mental health crises in Alabama communities.
This legislation builds on President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ ongoing work to build safer communities in Alabama and across the country. Signed into law last year, Democrats’ American Rescue Plan delivered $350 billion to support state and local governments through the pandemic – helping Alabama communities keep officers on the job. The landmark Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—the most significant gun violence prevention legislation to be enacted in nearly three decades—is saving lives by getting deadly weapons out of dangerous hands. With Sewell’s support, the Democratic House has also voted to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban and establish an AMBER Alert-style system to warn Alabama communities during active shootings.
Congresswoman Sewell and House Democrats are leading the charge to transform the culture of American policing and save lives from racist violence. The House has twice passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to implement strong, unprecedented reforms: banning chokeholds, prohibiting no-knock warrants, ending qualified immunity, combating racial profiling and establishing nationwide standards to prevent and combat police misconduct. While Republicans obstruct these vital reforms, Sewell and her Democratic colleagues will continue fighting to enact this historic legislation into law.