Obama Joins Local Law Enforcement to Discuss Federal Cuts that Would Hurt Their Ability to Keep Our Communities Safe
Friday, February 24, 2006
SPRINGFIELD - Joined by Illinois law enforcement, U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today said that the President's 2007 budget will hamper police officers' efforts to keep our communities safe by eliminating funding that has been crucial in fighting violent crime across the state and putting more police on the streets.
The President's budget would eliminate a critical source of assistance to police departments, the Byrne Memorial Grant Program. This year, more than 40 Illinois communities are splitting $12.9 million for Byrne Grants. Next year, they would receive nothing under the President's proposal. These grants help communities fight violent crime and provide assistance to victims of crime. Money provided by Byrne grants has been crucial in helping communities across Illinois join forces to combat this drug. In 2004 alone, Byrne grants helped Illinois cops make 1,267 methamphetamine-related arrests and seize 348,923 grams of meth.
"The budgets that come out of Washington never cease to amaze me," said Obama. "With all their numbers and programs and earmarks, they don't make for the most exciting news, but they do make clear what the priorities of the President and the Congress are. The decision to eliminate Byrne Grants and slash the COPS program is one that gives criminals and drug dealers a break by taking cops off the streets."
"Throughout Illinois and across the country, cities and towns and local law enforcement have been in the fight of their lives to fight drugs and the related rise in crime," said Obama. "But the Byrne Grants have made a real difference. For the State Police, this funding pays the salaries for the officers who patrol our streets. In some of the smaller towns with limited resources, the staff provided by these grants partners with local task forces and serve as the town's only chance to fight rising drug use and violence. In southern Illinois, Byrne grants have made a huge difference for law enforcement trying to fight the meth epidemic."
"How can we argue with this success? How can we look at all this progress and tell these communities that this year, when it comes to keeping drugs and criminals off their streets, they're on their own? In the coming weeks and months, I will be fighting to restore the funding for Byrne Grants so that local law enforcement can continue fighting crime."
Obama also noted that the President's Budget cuts the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program by 80 percent. In 2005, COPS provided $7.4 million for hiring police officers in more than 60 Illinois Communities. Since 1994, the program has funded 5,854 police officers in Illinois with grants topping $416 million. Since 1994, Illinois has received more than $45 million in COPS grants to purchase crime-fighting technologies - an average of $2.8 million per year in equipment that helps law enforcement save time, share information, and improve communications. The President's budget would completely eliminate funding for crime-fighting technologies under the COPS program.
Participants at today's meeting and press conference included:
Director Larry Trent, Director of Illinois State Police
Colonel Charles Brueggeman, Deputy Director Illinois State Police
John Pecoraro, Director of Illinois Assoc. of Chiefs of Police
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Snyders, Illinois State Police
Lieutenant Mark Henry, Illinois State Police/Illinois Drug Enforcement Officer's Association President
Lieutenant Terry Lemming, Illinois State Police/Statewide Drug Enforcement Coordinator
Master Sergeant Bob Bodemer, Illinois State Police/MEG and Task Force Directors' Association President
Sheriff Robert Kinderman, Christian County Sheriff's Office
Sheriff Dave Owens, McLean County Sheriff's Office
Chief Don Kliment, Springfield Police Department
Chief William Feithen, DeKalb Police Department
Chief Victor Morino, East Moline Police Department
Chief David Bradford, Glen Carbon Police Department
Laimutis Nargelenas, Deputy Director Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police