BIDEN Responds to McCain on Crime and Law Enforcement
As Author of the 1994 Landmark Crime Bill, Senator Biden Says McCain Has Opposed Efforts to Fund COPS Program
Senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) issued the following statement after Sen. John McCain's speech today to the National Sheriff's Association meeting in Indianapolis:
"Today, Senator McCain announced to the National Sheriffs Association his philosophy for combating crime in the United States. He invoked President Reagan's legacy - but during the entire Reagan Administration tenure, crime rates were at historic highs and they continued to rise through the early nineties. It wasn't until a Democratic President and Democrats in Congress came together to pass the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 - which authorized over $30 billion in aid for more police, more prevention efforts and more prisons for those convicted of crimes - that crime rates started to come down.
"And since the Crime Bill was passed, sheriffs and police chiefs across the country have been able to increase their numbers by over 118,000 and add new crime fighting technologies, such as crime mapping equipment and in-car computers. Established in the Crime Bill was the COPS program, which helped local police cut crime rates for eight straight years, from all-time highs to historic lows. But in 2001 when President Bush took office - with the support of Senator McCain and other Republicans - his Administration eviscerated the one thing that worked: the COPS Program. They refused to fund it and slashed billions in crime fighting assistance for local law enforcement on the grounds that it was not a federal responsibility. Since President Bush took office, Senator McCain has either remained silent or voted against every major funding effort for law enforcement and the COPS program.
"I agree with the Administration's necessary shift of 1,000 FBI agents away from fighting crime to fighting terror - but the failure to replace them, coupled with the $2 billion a year cuts to local law enforcement has created a perfect storm. States, counties, municipalities are being asked to do much more with less. And they do their job superbly every day because their first priority is keeping us safe - but we need to restore the money the Bush Administration has cut.
"I hope Senator McCain's speech today means he will now support our efforts to restore funding to the COPS program; fund 1,000 new FBI agents for traditional crime-fighting; fund the Violence Against Women Act programs; fund a Homeland Security Trust Fund to establish much-needed security upgrades across the country; fund Byrne Justice Assistance Grants; and support the Combating Child Exploitation Act of 2008 to establish a national network of local task forces to go after child predators.
"The government has one fundamental responsibility - keep Americans safe. We know what works. To quote President Reagan: "if it ain't broke - don't fix it." The system we left to the Republicans was working. The COPS program works and we should restore it."