Hawley introduces bill to hire 100,000 new police officers

The legislation comes amid low police morale and difficulty hiring and retaining officers

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., on Wednesday introduced legislation to hire 100,000 new police officers across the U.S. and boost optimism among police and communities.

The bill would provide federal grants to locales to boost new police hires; increase penalties for assaulting federal officers by 50%; develop programs to protect the private information judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials; extend concealed carry rights to federal judges and prosecutors; increase service programs for federal officers; and more.

"It's absolutely vital that we keep American families safe. That is the bottom line, and right now, too many Americans aren't. Why aren't they? Because … violent crime is up by over 30% in cities across the country," Hawley said Wednesday on "America's Newsroom" "Unfortunately, that includes my home state of Missouri. We need more cops. We shouldn't be defunding the police. We should be supporting them."

A person holds up a sign advocating for defunding the police as people gather to mark Juneteenth, Friday, June 19, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

A person holds up a sign advocating for defunding the police as people gather to mark Juneteenth, Friday, June 19, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The legislation comes amid reports of low police morale and difficulty hiring and retaining officers as the country continues to face a cultural reckoning more than a year after George Floyd's murder, with federal and local politicians alike working to reallocate funds from police departments and focus on community-centric responses to crime.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROFESSOR SAYS CALLS TO DEFUND THE POLICE ‘EMBOLDENED CRIMINALS’

Meanwhile, cities are facing large increases in violent crime rates, and some police departments are asking for help.

"This is not the time to defund the police or vilify them, but to support the brave men and women in blue — and put more of them on the streets. Immediately," Hawley said in a Thursday statement.

Calls from progressive federal, state and local lawmakers to "defund" police departments or reduce state and citywide police budgets became popularized after Floyd's murder. Demonstrators, pundits and progressive politicians repeated the phrase last year while more moderate Democrats pushed back against the idea.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP 

Minneapolis, which was once ground zero for the "defund the police" movement in the wake of Floyd’s death, backtracked on its original push to defund the police department in February after residents begged the city to hire more officers, citing longer response times and increased violent crime. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio cut the New York Police Department's budget by $1 billion; Los Angeles approved a $150 million police budget cut; Philadelphia approved a $33 million police budget cut in June; Portland, Oregon, cut $16 million from its police budget; and several other cities have approved similar reductions.