CARLSBAD, Calif. — More money could soon be coming to struggling, smaller police departments across the country to help them deal with critically low staffing.

Smaller stations like the Carlsbad Police Department have been struggling with a loss of officers as well as fewer overall recruits. The bill, introduced by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) has since been co-sponsored by nine California representatives.

This comes as many police departments across the country struggle with officer retention, as well as recruitment.

“They’re leaving for many reasons. One, obviously, is the unaffordability to live in San Diego County,” says Brian Marvel with the Police Officer Research Association of California. “Burn out and stress- that’s why you’re seeing a really big emphasis on mental health for peace officers and for public safety officers in general… and also the pay.”

That’s why U.S. Rep. Mike Levin from California (D-49) is supporting the “Invest to Protect” act.

The bill would grant $50 million a year to assist police departments with fewer than 200 officers.

“We’re asking a lot more from law enforcement, we get stuck in our ideological corners but I think we need to come together and when it comes to things like training for de-escalation, when it comes to things like cameras and accountability and transparency, that’s what this bill is designed to deliver,” says Rep. Levin.

The funds are expected to be used for de-escalation training, acquiring body-worn cameras, and mental health services. However, some believe that devoting funds to recruitment and bonuses will help with response times for calls that come in.

“When you have less officers, priority one calls, which are the emergency calls, those are the life-saving calls, officers are already handling other calls. So sometimes you can have a priority one call that waits 20-30 minutes,” says Marvel.

The Carlsbad Police Officers Association says that from January 2020 to 2021, Carlsbad saw crime jump more than 22%. Officials with the organization hope the new bill will help them keep officers to combat rising crime.

“It will allow us to retain officers and hopefully give hiring bonuses for officers to attract them to the police profession since we’ve noticed a sharp decrease in applicants over the years,” says Jim Willis with the Carlsbad Police Officers Association.

The Carlsbad Police Officers Association also says that currently, about 65% of the patrol officers on staff have less than five years of experience of working in Carlsbad.