In the face of continuing threats our nation faces, we are asking our first responders to do more and more to protect us. Whether it is handling hazardous materials, rescuing victims of a natural disaster, or responding to a criminal or terrorist threat, the responsibilities of our public safety officers have grown to face the challenges of a changed world.
As the Co-Chair of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus and the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Bill has been a vocal advocate for public safety and a champion of increasing assistance to those who serve us. He has fought to stop the Trump administration's repeated attempts to decimate the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which helps put more police officers onto our streets. Bill also authored the enormously successful Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement Act or FIRE Act, signed into law in 2000 by President Clinton, which was the first comprehensive national legislation dedicated to meet the needs of America's 32,000 volunteer, paid, and part-paid fire departments.
Rep. Pascrell has also lobbied to bring in more federal dollars to help pay for the increased equipment and training of New Jersey's public safety officials. Bill has worked successfully to finally get New Jersey its fair share of security grants by insisting that risk and vulnerabilities are taken into greater consideration within the State Homeland Security Grant Program. This includes his push for additional funding for the Urban Areas Security Initiative, which specifically addresses the unique planning, operations, equipment, training, and exercise needs of high-threat, high-density urban areas.
Rep. Pascrell was the principal sponsor of H.R. 2379, a congressional reauthorization of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program. On May 24, 2019, Bill’s legislation was signed into law, permanently authorizing $30,000,000 annually for the Bulletproof Vest Grant Program. Since its inception in 1999, the Bulletproof Vest Grant Program has provided funding to more than 13,000 state and local law enforcement agencies, allowing for the purchase of over one million bulletproof vests. According to the Government Accountability Office, more than 3,000 law enforcement lives have been saved by armored vests since 1987.
And with the understanding that true public safety holds many components, Bill has authored an array of diverse legislation. Indeed, Rep. Pascrell authored common sense legislation that requires that universities conduct annual fire safety reports for their students in his "Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act." Bill has also strived to ensure that new federal chemical security standards do not preempt the stronger chemical security standards already in place in New Jersey.
Our nation asks a lot out of our firefighters, police, and medical personnel. Bill demands that Washington does all it can to help these men and women do their job to ensure the safety of all Americans.