Last week, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., introduced the “Violent Incident Clearance and Technological Investigative Methods (VICTIM) Act.”
The bill would have the U.S. Department of Justice create a grant program “to hire, train, and retain detectives and victim services personnel to investigate shootings and support victims.”
Demings, who served more than a quarter-century in law enforcement rising to become Orlando’s police chief, reeled in the support of fellow Democrats U.S. Reps. Cindy Axne of Iowa, Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania, Robin Kelly of Illinois, Lucy McBath of Georgia and Tom O’Halleran of Arizona.
The bill would “establish a grant program at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide resources to state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies to assist them improve their clearance rates for homicides and non-fatal shootings” and the grants from the program would be used to “hire and retain detectives to investigate homicide and non-fatal shootings; acquire resources for processing evidence, including the hiring of additional personnel; hire personnel trained to analyze criminal intelligence and crime trends; train detectives and evidence processing personnel in effective procedures and techniques; and ensure victim services are sufficiently staffed, funded, and trained.”
Demings weighed in on the bill last week.
“Real life isn’t like ‘CSI: Miami.’ I saw as a law enforcement officer, detective, and chief of police that gun crimes are oftentimes difficult to investigate and solve. Simply put, many agencies lack the resources they need to bring justice to these cases and closure for families. Half of gun murders in the United States go unsolved, and victims are often left with no justice and little support. This legislation would inject critical new funding into America’s law enforcement agencies to hire and train detectives and specialists specifically committed to investigate unsolved crimes, comfort victims, and bring the guilty to justice,” Demings said in support of her bill.
“I vividly recall as a law enforcement officer standing over the bodies of young Floridians who had been victims of gun crimes, knowing that their families would soon receive devastating news. Today, the murder rate is rising, and more and more cases go unsolved. Unsolved gun crimes are unacceptable for the victims and their families, and leaving violent criminals on the streets is unacceptable for the communities we are trying to protect. We can do better, and this legislation will give our law enforcement agencies the resources they need to track down violent criminals and keep Floridians safe,” she added.
“Helping our state and local police solve more fatal and non-fatal shooting cases would be a huge win for public safety in Philadelphia and across the country – district attorneys can’t bring cases that don’t reach them, so this would help make our neighborhoods safer. As someone who has pushed for help for victims of gun violence, I’m also very pleased that this bill would provide victims and family members with mental health resources and assistance with shelter, wage, and relocation costs. I’m proud to co-lead this much-needed legislation with Rep. Demings – her long experience in law enforcement has been so vital in Congress,” Evans said.
The Niskanen Center, the National Police Foundation, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Association of Police Organizations and other organizations are backing the proposal.
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee last week. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.