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Tester Addresses Law Enforcement Challenges During Call

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., discussed challenges facing law enforcement during a conference call with rural Montana media members on Thursday, March 21.

Although he said federal government can’t do a lot to help specific law enforcement agencies be able to hire new officers, he noted that some federal programs provide assistance to departments.

Tester said he has worked to secure targeted resources to fund grant programs like COPS and Byrne JAG. “I am working hard to support High Intensity Drug Task Forces, which are critical to get dangerous drugs off the streets in Montana,” he noted.

The COPS program provides funds for police recruitment and training across the country.

Tester said that police departments, such as Wolf Point which has been working with just two officers for the past few months, are one of many law enforcement agencies throughout the nation that is short handed.

“It also points out that law enforcement is a dangerous business,” Tester said of the lack of interest of going into the field.

He explained the federal government can offer grants so agencies can increase their amount of radios and equipment, but it’s up local government to address their employee shortages.

Tester did said that new funding will help the Bureau of Indian Affairs provide increased security at schools, but he wishes the funds would be more than the budget is expected to include. He said drug cartels comes to Indian Country because of a law enforcement shortage.

Later in the call, Tester said the bottom line is that more law enforcement in Indian Country, and everywhere, is needed to stop illegal actions.

After a meeting with Montana law enforcement officials last week, Tester urged the Biden administration to do more to fund local law enforcement.

During the meeting, Tester heard from local law enforcement about the challenges they face in their communities and the tools they need to boost crime prevention, tackle the fentanyl epidemic, and cut back the unnecessary red tape that prevents their use of COPS Hiring and other federal grants.

“Smaller law enforcement agencies and those in rural areas face unique challenges as they work hard every day on the critically important mission of keeping communities safe. I believe the DOJ must do more to cut unnecessary red tape that is making it too difficult for smaller departments to access federal resources,” wrote Tester to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

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