By The Leader Staff
Rudy Salas
Rudy Salas

Assemblymember Rudy Salas, who represents Lemoore and Kings County, introduced a bill that would provide $50 million in grant funds to facilitate the hiring of peace officers who agree to live and work in local, underserved communities experiencing high rates of violent crime.

In 15 of California’s largest counties, violent crime has increased, particularly in areas where it is difficult to attract and hire qualified law enforcement officers. Studies show that community-oriented policing that builds contact with the public should be prioritized as a strategy to help establish trust and reduce crime on a neighborhood level.

“Hiring and retaining qualified police officers who live in the same neighborhoods that they serve is one of the best ways we can build trust and reduce crime,” said Salas. “AB 2062 is an innovative investment in creating neighborhood cops who are part of the community they serve. Our neighborhoods are safer when we have strong, positive interactions between our community members and local law enforcement.”

According to a report from the Public Policy Institute of California, crime rates have disproportionately affected certain regions and counties in California. In major cities and the San Joaquin Valley, troubling crime trends show that homicides increased by about 17 percent in 2021.

Salas said AB 2062 is a unique and innovative approach to help address this issue by incentivizing new law enforcement hiring and retention by providing $50 million in grant funds to peace officers who work and live in underserved areas experiencing high rates of violent crime.

To access this grant funding, eligible officers can choose to live approximately 30 minutes walking distance from the department they work at within a county that has had a homicide rate higher than the state average for at least the past five years.

AB 2062 will be referred to the Assembly Rules Committee and is expected for a hearing within 30 days.