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Phillips Introduces Bill to Bolster Police Recruitment Nationwide

The bill, based on the “Pathways to Policing” program started in Minnesota, is endorsed by the state’s police associations

Washington, D.C. —
Today, Rep. Dean Phillips introduced the bipartisan Pathways to Policing Act to address the police shortage in Minnesota and in communities across the country. The bill is endorsed by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police, and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

The Pathways to Policing Act invests in programs to help state and local law enforcement agencies struggling to maintain adequate staffing levels. While the root cause of the nationwide officer shortage is multifaceted, bolstering the pipeline of service-oriented individuals is one way to ensure agencies have the resources they need to protect our communities and keep officers safe.

“Keeping people safe is a fundamental responsibility of government, but the increasing difficulty in recruiting and retaining principled officers is comprising the security of communities all around the country,”
Rep. Dean Phillips said. “We must provide new tools for law enforcement agencies to attract the best and brightest Americans to serve the communities in which they live. Minnesota has shown the country how to do just that, and it’s time to assist agencies around the country recruit a new generation of principled police officers, and ensure safety, security, and justice for all.”

This legislation will provide $50 million to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to operate nationwide recruitment campaigns, and an additional $50 million to create and operate “Pathways to Policing” programs supported by local and statewide marketing and recruiting efforts. These campaigns will encourage members of communities traditionally underrepresented in the field of law enforcement or who have non-traditional educational or career backgrounds to seek employment in law enforcement.

The Pathways to Policing Act is inspired by a pioneering program used throughout Minnesota by the same name and will reduce barriers to service for individuals interested in seeking careers as full-time law enforcement officers.

Priority for the grants to states, local governments, and law enforcement agencies under this program will be given to applicants seeking to build a diverse police force that represents the communities they serve.

Jeff Potts, Executive Director, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association:

“The Pathways to Policing concept was created here in Minnesota back in 2016. Over the past six years this program has been used by several cities in Minnesota as a tool to recruit a diverse pool of non-traditional candidates. It provides an excellent opportunity for candidates who have a heart for service in their community. Particularly those candidates who have obtained an education and job experience in other career fields but have always wanted to become a Police Officer. This program provides them with the pathway to begin a new career in public service. Elevating this program to a national level will help to provide this opportunity on a much larger scale.”

Pat Chelmo, 2nd Vice President, Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police:

“The breadth of experience and perspectives seen in Pathways cops connects law enforcement to the communities they serve and yields positive outcomes in many contacts. The MN FOP supports this legislation as an effort to stem the tide of shrinking candidate pools and police forces. Efforts such as this will directly impact not only the number of cops on the street, but the quality as well.”

Brian Peters, Executive Director, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association:

“The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA) is the largest association representing public safety professionals in the State of Minnesota. We support the ‘Pathways to Policing Act’ because we absolutely must have more law enforcement officers to keep our communities safe. If there are not enough quality candidates, we will see less help for community safety needs. Fewer law enforcement officers mean longer response times for urgent needs, less time for community engagement, and a reduced presence to deter those wishing to cause harm and mayhem.”