As a former mayor, I firmly believe that the federal government has an obligation to help communities in the fight against crime and I have consistently championed allocating additional resources to help get the job done.
I strongly opposed cutbacks to the COPS program, which provided federal funding to help local governments keep police officers on the streets and in neighborhoods. I worked to reauthorize the COPS program and led an effort to urge that funding be restored. I was very happy that we were able to include $1 billion in COPS funding in the stimulus bill, H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This is an important program that can make a real difference in our local communities.
Moved by the story of a young constituent threatened for speaking out about a crime he witnessed, I introduced the Young Witness Assistance Act to establish a grant program to give local prosecutors and police funding to help protect young witnesses. The legislation has become law and is designed to support a number of essential services such as counseling, pre and post trial assistance and protective services.
Following the tragedy in Newtown, CT there was renewed emphasis on the need for a comprehensive gun control package. As part of this, many have called for the renewal of the assault weapons ban. There is no reason Congress can’t take action and I am disappointed that little progress has been made. I supported renewing the assault weapons ban in 2004 and am sorry that it expired without a vote. We cannot prevent every act of violence, but there are certainly many steps that can be taken to improve safety. Congress must extend the assault weapons ban, close gun show loopholes, ban the sale of large capacity magazines, and restrict sales at gun shows. I support all of this. I have not given up hope that Congress will consider meaningful gun control.
In memory of the slain MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, I filed the “Officer Sean Collier Campus Police Recognition Act of 2013.” The legislation fixes an oversight in the Department of Justice's Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program by allowing campus police officers to receive benefits when they are catastrophically injured in the line of duty. If the officers are killed in the line of duty, their surviving family members are eligible to receive the benefits. In response to a petition started by Andrew Collier, the brother of Sean Collier, I introduced legislation that would recognize and honor first responders with a new legal public holiday called “National First Responders Day.”