Vice President Joe Biden came to the Alexandria police department yesterday to talk about how the American Jobs Act will keep police officers and other first responders working.
Alexandria is just one of thousands of communities where police forces have taken a hit due to budget cutbacks. Thanks to an $800,000 Community Oriented Policing Services grant announced on Wednesday, the Alexandria Police Department will be able to put four out of nine of the officers they lost back on patrol. The American Jobs Act, as Biden said, would fund an additional $4 billion in COPS grants – like the one awarded to Alexandria – that would support the hiring, re-hiring and retention of officers in departments nationwide.
“We need to help these departments,” said Biden. “When you cut forces, and you cut them significantly, it not only diminishes public safety, it diminishes your ability to stay safe.”
Biden also announced how the American Jobs Act would help modernize public safety communications by deploying a nationwide public safety broadband network so that first responders can communicate and exchange data without interruption in emergency situations. The Vice President emphasized that such a network requires sufficient spectrum which is why the American Jobs Act includes allocating the D-block to it. As the Vice President said, a modern communications system is something “we promised you, the last administration promised you, everybody has promised you since 9/11. … So once and for all, you’ll have what you should have had 10 years ago, 12 years ago, 15 years ago.”
“The first responders in this country, you are absolutely incredible,” Biden said in closing. “To me, this is a simple deal. We owe you. We said we'd give you what you need, and we told the public they'd have what they needed to be protected. We're not doing it now because of this recession. There's an easy way to do it – just by making some very stark choices on value systems that in fact I think the vast majority of the American people would say is just fair.”