GUEST VIEW: Recent COPS grant backs the blue in San Antonio

By Congressman Tony Gonzales

There is a sense that crime is rising, but a recent COPS grant to fund 50 officers in San Antonio should ameliorate that concern.

Congressional District 23, which I represent, spans more than 800 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, stretching from San Antonio to El Paso. Crime and violence are unfortunate common denominators that I hear about time and again. Whether in urban areas, rural towns, or along the border, there is a sense that crime is on the rise and law enforcement is stretched thin.

First responders have a taxing, difficult job. Our law enforcement officers risk their lives to keep our communities safe. We were reminded of this when six San Antonio police officers were shot in the line of duty this summer in five different shootings that took place over a two-week span.

This surge of attacks happened shortly after a crime-friendly initiative known as “Prop A” received a vote in San Antonio. Fortunately, this measure failed overwhelmingly after intense pushback from community leaders, myself included. Yet, the fact that we even considered Prop A sent the wrong message to criminals, especially in the aftermath of national calls to defund the police.

The Alamo City I know and grew up in does not rebuke law enforcement. On the contrary, we welcome their presence and consider them allies. That is why I’ve been laser-focused on working with local, state and federal officials to back the blue in San Antonio.

As an appropriator in Congress, I have the unique privilege of overseeing the “power of the purse.” One of the subcommittees I work on deals directly with law enforcement funding, including essential grant programs that can be used to provide sheriff’s offices and police departments with additional equipment and staff.

Through this committee, and by way of partnerships with San Antonio law enforcement, the mayor’s office, San Antonio City Council and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, my office has delivered critical resources for local law enforcement. Just this month, San Antonio was awarded $6.25 million in federal funding to hire 50 additional police officers — the maximum award possible through the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, grant allocated to only four cities in the United States this year. It shows that backing the blue at all levels of government pays off.

Securing a federal grant is not an easy process. It’s incredibly time-consuming for local governments to put together an application, and success requires engagement from all stakeholders. That’s why my office has prioritized grant services as a key pillar of our operations. Through multiple letters of support, public advocacy and meetings with cabinet secretaries, I’ve worked hard to ensure that San Antonio’s priorities are front and center in Washington. Supporting law enforcement is no exception, and I’m proud to announce that five out of seven of the COPS grant applications I supported this year will receive funding.

Now more than ever, we need to support our men and women behind the badge and push back on calls to defund the police. Our streets are safer when our law enforcement officers are fully backed, staffed and funded. I won’t stop until this mission is complete.

Tony Gonzales serves as the U.S. representative for Texas’s 23rd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives.