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Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) announced he will be re-introducing legislation to help improve communication and engagement between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve.

Representative Emmer introduced the Community OutPost (COP) Outreach and Engagement Act, which would establish a pilot program to promote the nationwide use of Community OutPosts as a means to help law enforcement improve relationships with residents and provide increased access to vital services.

Modeled after the St. Cloud Police Department’s “COP” House, the COP Outreach and Engagement Act will provide federal resources to promote improved, community-focused engagement efforts. The effort won the Department of Justice’s 2018 L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award.

A COP House is a residential home where nearby residents can receive critical services and build relationships with local law enforcement. Services provided at a COP House can include medical treatment, legal advice, and access to federal assistance. With improved police-citizen communication, officers can more effectively establish trust and build rapport with the citizens that they are sworn to protect.

“Neighborhoods are only as safe as their relationships with each other are strong. By building collaboration and understanding between law enforcement and residents, we can create positive interactions with our nation’s police,” said Emmer.

“The COP House in St. Cloud has given residents a chance to have meaningful interactions with officers from their local police department, while providing officers with the opportunity to build relationships throughout their region. Conducting outreach out of this outpost rather than remaining sheltered in a precinct increases comfort for other individuals and establishes interactions with police that are not simply confrontational. Through continued engagement and familiarity, we can improve the way we keep our communities safe,” Emmer concluded.

The COP Outreach and Engagement Act establishes a national pilot program for law enforcement, non-profit organizations, and critical care providers to jointly establish COP Houses in jurisdictions around the country. This local coalition can assess community needs, improve resident-law enforcement engagement, and provide access to health and wellness services. The program will be overseen by Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office within the Department of Justice. Following implementation, the bill would also require metrics to monitor the effectiveness of these efforts.

Background: 

Building off an original model implemented by law enforcement in Racine, Wisconsin, the first COP House in Minnesota was established in St. Cloud in 2017. The effort in St. Cloud is a partnership between the St. Cloud Police Department, Mayo Ambulance, CentraCare Health, and Stearns County Social Services.

Congressman Emmer assisted with the procurement of the home, which hosts community events such as English language programs, back-to-school events, dental & breastfeeding clinics, legal office hours, and kids’ activities.

Read more about the COP Outreach and Engagement Act here.

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