I believe there is no greater duty for a Member of Congress than to provide for the public safety and security of our nation, beginning right here at home. With local budgets already stretched to their limits and police and fire departments taking on more non-traditional roles, the need for increased federal assistance is clear. I am committed to ensuring that our nation's first responder's - police, firefighters, and emergency response teams - have the resources, training and equipment they need to help protect and assist our citizens.
Four years after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast and it became painfully clear how vulnerable we still were to a catastrophe within our own borders. I believe we need to improve our port and border security, better protect critical infrastructure and transportation systems, and ensure we are sharing intelligence and information between federal authorities and state and local law enforcement. While carefully protecting our civil liberties, we must make our homeland more secure and do everything possible we can to prevent another terrorist attack here in America.
Increase Funding for Community Policing. Community policing works. By establishing a collaborative effort between a police department and community, police are able to work with citizens to solve problems and prevent crime before it occurs. We've seen the dramatic impact these programs can have in our local communities. In the period from 1993 to 1999 when Lowell launched its community policing initiative, crime declined by 66%.
Unfortunately, federal COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) grants to Massachusetts have dropped from $48 million in FY 1996 to $4.7 million today. That's a ninety percent cut. I am committed to restoring this funding and helping our first responders do their job.
Restore the Assault Weapons Ban. On September 13, 2004, the Assault Weapons Ban expired. This ban took some of the most dangerous weapons off the street. That's why virtually every federal, state and local law enforcement agency supported the ban. And that's why I do too. In the years following the bill's first passage, use of assault weapons has dropped 66% from the pre-ban rate. I strongly support restoring this sensible legislation.
Increase Funding for Firefighters. I strongly supports funding FIRE and SAFER grants for our firefighters. Fire departments across the 5th District have received more than $5.8 million from these grant programs, and I am working to restore the cuts made over the last eight years to these important grant programs.
Dealing with Gang Issues. Anti-gang measures are essential in our cities. I strongly support local street worker and after school programs to prevent problems before they become crises.