U.S. Senator Herb Kohl today questioned a panel of law enforcement experts, including Milwaukee's Police Chief Edward A. Flynn and Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, regarding ways the federal government can help state and local law enforcement. Panelists also included Lt. Kris Carlson of the Burlington Police Department and Heritage Center Senior Policy Analyst David Muhlhausen.
"We owe a great debt of gratitude to our local law enforcement officials who work each and every day to keep our communities safe by preventing crime before it happens and enforcing the law when it does," Kohl said. "We, at the federal level, have a responsibility to provide them with the resources they need to be successful."
"With the recent increased support in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, what can law enforcement officials to do ensure the taxpayers that the funds are being used in a responsible and effective manner?" Kohl asked.
Police Chief Flynn indicated that accountability was essential and that the best way to stimulate the economy was to invest in law enforcement and public safety. He also stressed that Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant money is important to provide adequate patrols on our streets and a stable police presence which in turn will lead to increased investments in our cities and communities.
The U.S. Senate passed the economic stimulus package, which included $3.3 billion for federal and state law enforcement initiatives that Senator Kohl, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, worked to include in the legislation. Kohl is the sponsor of the COPS Improvement Act of 2009. The funding approved by the Senate included:
* $1 billion for the COPS Universal Hiring program
* $2 billion for Byrne competitive grant program
* $300 million for VAWA programs
Created as part of the 1994 Crime Bill, the COPS program has funded more than 100,000 community police officers across the country. Many experts cite this program as an important factor in driving down crime for eight consecutive years in the 1990s. Beginning in 2001, however, the Bush Administration proposed cuts to the COPS program in each of its budget requests; despite bipartisan efforts in Congress to prevent those cuts, the Administration succeeded in eliminating the hiring portion of the program by 2005.
Kohl is the sponsor of legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), to re-establish Congress's commitment to local law enforcement by establishing the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services as a distinct office within the Department of Justice and will re-authorize hiring programs for three specific purposes - general community policing, local counter-terrorism officers, and school resource officers. The bill also reauthorizes funds for technology grants, community prosecutors, and makes critical improvements to ensure efficient grant management and to eliminate waste.
Kohl serves as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has championed the COPS program and has worked to gain funding for the Byrne Grant program and support for the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.