Chaired By: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Witnesses Panel I: Thomas J. Perrelli, Associate Attorney General, Department Of Justice; Panel Ii: Chief Edward A. Flynn, Milwaukee Police Department; Lieutenant Kris Carlson, Burlington Police Department; David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst, Heritage Center For Data Analysis
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SEN. LEAHY: Morning. Morning, Senator Kohl, Senator Sessions. I know Senator Feingold was here earlier. I think the chief of Milwaukee (is out doing that ?) and this is National Police Week. We're going to pay tribute to the men and women who work every day to protect our communities, our schools, our homes, and, of course, we have to remember, sadly, those who died in the line of duty. And across this country, more than 900,000 men and women in law enforcement work tirelessly day in and day out to keep us safe, and of those brave men and women, 133 gave their lives this past year.
More than 18,000 have died in our nation's history. We owe them our gratitude, our honor, but we also owe them our commitment to do whatever we can to help them in their vital mission. That is why as this new Congress began this committee responded to the immense strain law enforcement is experiencing as a result of the economic downturn. I chaired the committee's first hearing of the year, and that examined the urgent need for increased federal assistance to state and local law enforcement. At that hearing, police chiefs and experts from around the country agreed the current economic crisis made federal aid even more important.
And I worked with others in the Congress of both parties and with the administration to ensure that the recovery legislation included a major infusion of funds for state and local. Vice President Biden -- Vice President Biden has been a leader in this issue, a long leader. President Obama, when he was in the Senate, consistently supported us as he has as president. The recovery legislation that Congress passed and the president signed into law include nearly $4 billion for state and local law enforcement and we're already using that. Tough economic (crimes ?) create conditions that can too easily lead to a spike in crime.
Earlier this year, USA Today reported a study by the Police Executive Research Forum find nearly half of the 233 police agencies surveyed seen significant increases in crime since the economic crisis began. Sadly, a lot of that, as Chief Flynn told me before the meeting started, is domestic violence. (And ?) my home state of Vermont, we've seen the largest recipients of these funds in Vermont is going to be the cities of Rutland and St. Albans. When the Judiciary Committee held hearings in the last Congress it showed that crime and drugs are not just big city issues but rural communities. Our largest city is 38,000. We're a small -- we have small cities and towns (but ?) we're seeing an increase in crime.
The law enforcement funding, together with our other budget decisions, has allowed the Vermont State Police, the state's largest sworn police officer (sic), to avoid laying off even a single uniformed police officer. But it'll also help police departments hire new personnel in places like Burlington, and the Burlington Police Department has continued to be a law enforcement innovator, not just in our state but nationally.
And for the first time, with these funds there's going to be a full-time mental health worker assigned to work with police on the street, help the uniformed police and help decrease the need for them to provide mental health services, and we'll have Lieutenant Kris Carlson, who heads the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, talk to us. This unit, staffed by sophisticated and well- trained experts, would never have existed but for federal assistance.
It faced serious cuts but the recovery act helped us to pass up those or not to have to have those cuts, and when you think of crimes against children, every one of us whether as parents or grandparents should be worried and every one of us as Americans should be worried about crimes against the most vulnerable people in our society, our children. And I want also to welcome Associate Attorney General Perrelli. He -- Mr. Perrelli is already working hard to ensure law enforcement funding set out in the recovery legislation is put to the most effective use possible to keep our communities safe.
Mr. Perrelli is no stranger to those of us on this committee and, of course, I'm delighted to have him here. Chief Flynn from Milwaukee has been outspoken in saying that only if we support effective police strategies can we ensure economic recovery, and Mr. Muhlhausen, whom I enjoyed meeting in January -- I'm glad to have you all back. I'll put my whole statement in the record. Let me yield to my friend, the senior Republican on -- on the committee, Jeff Sessions.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL): Thank you. Well, ranking member -- I got a few senior folks on the committee to me but, Mr. Chairman, it's great to work with you and I think we have some potential to do some real good here. I look forward to not only this hearing but Mr. Perrelli in working to help you utilize that money that Congress has given in the way most effective to reduce crime. I think we do have a edging up of crime now. It's something that we need to watch.
I think murder rate may be nationally half what it was in -- in the early 80s, and so we've made some progress in a number of areas. Some cities have had dramatic drops in murder rates. I believe that punishment is an effective deterrent and also incapacitates a very small number of people who are willing to kill, murder, rape, and rob. Not that many who will do that in their lifetime ever. But with regard to the $4 billion we -- we've appropriated as part of the stimulus bill, it went quickly. It was a fast-moving bill. I am uneasy that if we aren't careful we will not get the crime-fighting bang for our buck that we'd like to get.
So I'm -- I'm worried about that. I would just say, Mr. Chairman, serving as United States attorney for 12 years and convening a law enforcement coordinating committee, first time those had been ever established, and we had all our local sheriffs and chiefs of police, federal agencies, and others meet to discuss our priorities, I've become a very, very strong believer in task forces, unity of effort, breaking down walls and barriers between departments, and we found time and time again that when you do that the evidence appears that one department didn't have and can lead to the identification of very serious criminal elements.
So I think of things like the Weed and Seed program that I personally believe worked far better than even I thought, and I -- I was supportive of it -- the drug courts, where we take people in who -- who have a drug problem that's part of their criminal problem and we put them under intensive surveillance, drug testing as a condition of probation but give them a second chance.
Those things work, and there are a lot of other programs at work. We have a bottleneck, in my opinion, in forensic sciences.
We're not getting quick enough feedback to our law enforcement police officers. If you double the number of police officers but don't increase the -- their ability to get chemical analysis of drugs or fingerprints or blood type or DEA (sic), then their whole system can be weakened, and -- and I think the federal role primarily should not be the funding and taking over of local law enforcement but providing research, good information, and good federal dollars that can help them work together in a partnership way to be more effective. So I look forward to this hearing and thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to share these thoughts.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you, and Senator Kohl, you'd asked to say a --
SEN. HERB KOHL (D-WI): Thank you -- thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your calling this hearing this morning on the importance of local law enforcement and I particularly thank you for inviting one of the Milwaukee's finest, Chief Edward Flynn, of the Milwaukee Police Department to testify. I was on the airplane late afternoon yesterday with Chief Flynn and I told him how much I was looking forward to his being with us this morning and he stated very clearly that he was looking forward to it also.
But as I was walking back to my seat after having visited with him on the airplane I thought he seemed somewhat distracted. Didn't understand exactly whether or not there was another motive or another reason for his coming to Washington, and lo and behold, I hear this morning that Chief Flynn has a daughter who lives here in Washington and last night his daughter gave birth to a baby. Is that right?
MR. FLYNN: (Off mike.)
SEN. KOHL: Congratulations.
MR. FLYNN: Thank you.
SEN. KOHL: We owe a great debt of gratitude to our 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. We at the federal level have a responsibility to provide them with the resources they need to be successful. I'm pleased that the new administration has expressed a commitment to restoring much needed funding to our successful local law enforcement and prevention programs, and it's in that spirit that I'm pleased to be here with you all today.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you very much. Mr. Perrelli, thank you and welcome. I believe this is your first hearing since you were sworn in to your new position before this committee. Delighted to have you here. Is your microphone on?
MR. PERRELLI: I think now it is.
SEN. LEAHY: There. Please go ahead, sir.
MR. PERRELLI: Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Sessions, and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity during National Police Week to discuss the Department of Justice's deep commitment to supporting and restoring its historic partnership with state, local, and tribal law enforcement.
Crime remains a central issue in communities across the country, but at the same time many law enforcement agencies face reductions in municipal and county budgets, and all state and local law enforcement authorities have added duties in the post-9/11 world. Now more than ever it's essential to strengthen our partnerships with state, local, and tribal law enforcement through meetings and listening sessions. The attorney general and the department have begun that process. I'll talk a little bit about the recovery act and its funding, which a number of the senators have already referenced.
The recovery act provided more than $4 billion for state, local, and tribal law enforcement activities. The offices within the Department of Justice responsible for administering this funding -- the Office of Justice Programs, OJP; the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, the COPS office; and the Office on Violence Against Women -- have been working, meeting with mayors, chiefs of police, sheriffs, city council members, and others to talk to them about the resources available and help them to apply. OJP, which provides leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, is responsible for delivering more than $2.7 billion in recovery act grants.
The lion's share of that funding, $2 billion, comes through the Byrne JAG program, and I'm happy to say that as of Monday OJP had already announced $537 million in state and local Byrne JAG awards. The recovery act also provided $225 million for the Byrne competitive grant program and we'll be looking at applications in that program that are evidence based with a focus on community prevention initiatives, and I would note that one of the trends that we have seen in that program is the overwhelming number of applications from local law enforcement seeking funds for forensic analysts and for other civilian and technical experts to assist them in their law enforcement activities.
The recovery act also provides essential funding for the COPS office in the form of grants to create and preserve law enforcement officer positions with $1 billion through what we're calling the CHRP program -- the COPS Hiring Recovery Program, which we believe will create or save approximately 5,500 law enforcement officer jobs, both stimulating the economy and putting more officers and deputies in control -- on patrol in neighborhoods across the country. That program has demonstrated to us the crying need in -- in states and localities throughout the country. The COPS office received applications from over 7,200 enforcement agencies for $8.3 billion in requested funds, or more than enough to save more than 39,000 law enforcement officer jobs.
The third major initiative is through the Office of Violence Against Women, where there are $225 million both through the STOP Violence Against Women formula grant and grants to Tribal Government Program which support the work of state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing domestic violence and sexual assault. Turning a little bit to the 2010 budget, which the president announced last week, in that proposal the administration is requesting $2.6 billion for state and local law enforcement assistance. That funding will be used to establish and build on partnerships, hopefully to meet Senator Sessions' point of a unity of effort between the federal government and state and local law enforcement in areas such as violent crime, illegal drugs, gang activity, information sharing.
Now, in addition to providing support through grants at the state, local, and tribal levels, it's critical that we support our new and innovative approaches to addressing crime with evidence. The administration believes that our approach to fighting crime, like other important issues of the day, should be backed by sound science. At the department, we are following on that commitment by working to integrate research from the field into our programmatic activities. In many cases, state and local authorities have already -- have the knowledge and it's a question of (gathering and in the right place ?) determining what are best practices and spreading those to the field.
If our partnership with state, local, and tribal law enforcement is to endure, federal financial support cannot be a one-time occurrence. The country is facing prolonged problems that require steadfast commitment and long-term cooperation, and at the department we are committed to restoring that partnership with state, local, and tribal authorities in every way that we can to address public safety. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the committee and I'm pleased to answer any questions the committee may have.
SEN. LEAHY: Well, thank you very much and I -- I think some of this you've covered but I know when those of us who advocate for the $4 billion for state and local law enforcement, and as I mentioned earlier, the first hearing this committee held to (find ?) the need for that we heard some criticism saying that, one, the state and local government did not need this help and another criticism the federal government could not get it out -- (inaudible) -- quickly enough. But I understand that just three months later -- (inaudible) -- awarded $500 million already to state and local police. What kind of response are you getting from them? Are they saying, gee whiz, okay, or what? I don't -- I'm not trying to put words in your mouth but I'm just curious.
MR. PERRELLI: Sure. The attorney general had a law enforcement summit in April (hearing from about ?) 75 leaders in law enforcement nationwide as -- as well as in state and local communities, and the message was loud and clear that they were facing difficult budget pressure -- that they very much needed the assistance of the federal government both to continue what they were doing but as well as to advance a number of long-term initiatives such as information sharing, all the joint task forces whether dealing with gang -- gang initiatives in particular as well as illegal narcotics trafficking and crimes against children. So we have seen both in those listening sessions with state and local law enforcement a tremendous desire to work together certainly on the funding level but also on the -- to develop that unity of effort that Senator Sessions talked about.
SEN. LEAHY: It may be too early to tell but are you getting any idea of how many jobs are either created or saved because of this?
MR. PERRELLI: Well, we are -- we are estimating that once the COPS funding, which we hope will reach communities in late fall -- late summer, early fall, we would estimate that that will create or save approximately 5,500 officer positions. Some of the other programs we are still trying to develop the appropriate metrics to measure job creation in that context, but we certainly know that those funds will -- are very much needed by the communities to which they're going.
SEN. LEAHY: Just to kind of emphasize that most law enforcement matters tend to be pretty bipartisan or nonpartisan, I want to emphasize what Senator Sessions said about the joint task force (and all ?), and I see it especially in a little state like the state of Vermont. We're 640,000, 650,000 people. We stretch from the Canadian border down to the (Massachusetts part ?) of New Hampshire one side and New York on the other. We're near metropolitan areas where drug gangs and others think this is easy picking going into small towns where many have a small police force. They can move in there and, of course, it's young people especially that are -- that are hurt by it.
We've used task force very, very effectively in going after these people, I think to their surprise, and the task force on child predators, the -- all these other things. I -- I just mentioned that. I know you know it but I wanted to -- you hear it from a lot of us up here, as Senator Sessions said, as I'm saying. Especially in smaller rural areas these task force can be very helpful, but many times they need the kind of funding that comes from your office to set them up -- to organize them, especially at a time when you have -- when -- when you have such a strain on our state and local budgets. We have some very, very good men and women out there in law enforcement but they need the wherewithal to put these kind of programs together. Would you agree with that?
MR. PERRELLI: I -- I certainly would agree with that and in the recovery act as well as in -- in the -- the president's 2010 budget there's -- there are additional funds requested specifically for our rural -- rural law enforcement programs, and the -- the COPS program itself recognizes this by ensuring that money is distributed to large -- large communities as well as smaller communities, and I think that's important. But I think your fundamental point that the task force approach is -- at the federal, state, and local level is critical to controlling crime is the right one.
SEN. LEAHY: And I emphasize we're not trying to set up a either- or type of thing, Senator. I -- I do not in any way want to take from the problems that large cities have, a lot of -- lot of cities several times the population of my own state, and they have some very unique problems because of that. You have -- in the Office of Justice Programs, its component parts including the COPS office, saw billions of dollars in grants for state and local law enforcement to award.
Incidentally, we keep talking about the COPS program. It's capital C, capital O, capital P, capital S. (Inaudible) -- people may be watching this on C-SPAN or anywhere else. It's -- it's the name of the program. What kind of plans do you have for awarding this grant money going forward and what kind of programs do you expect to -- to support?
MR. PERRELLI: Through the -- through the COPS hiring program, that program is focused on the ability of funding local communities to hire individual officers, essentially three years worth of funding with a guarantee from the local community that they will fund for an additional year thereafter. But there are other programs, particularly programs focused on protecting our children against child exploitation, programs that fund the schools and law enforcement, working with schools to make schools safer environments as well as a host of technical assistance efforts that the -- that the COPS office oversees principally to -- to help local communities make the most effective -- make their local police most effective by helping them find the right strategies and solutions.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you. Senator Sessions?
SEN. SESSIONS: (Off mike) -- you're associate attorney general and that -- in that position you are responsible for Office of Justice Programs and basically the policies of the department with regard to state and local law enforcement?
MR. PERRELLI: The -- under the associate attorney general there's the Office of Justice Programs as well as the COPS office and the Office on Violence Against Women and -- and the grant making. Those are the primary grant making policy (arms ?). That's correct.
SEN. SESSIONS: And do you have Bureau of Justice Statistics and --
MR. PERRELLI: Bureau of Justice Statistics is within the Office of Justice Programs.
SEN. SESSIONS: I'll just share this with you. Fred Thompson had this idea -- (inaudible) -- exactly correct which he thought fundamentally the first thing the federal government should do, since we represent the whole United States and have a certain amount of money that local departments don't have, we could conduct, research, analyze, and study initiatives and programs that are out there that are working, and some may not be working. Do you feel like you're adequately doing that? Because when we spend $4 billion we want to be sure it goes to the most effective programs to reduce crime and make our citizens safer.
MR. PERRELLI: Well, Senator, I think you're exactly right that we need to get the most bang for our buck in -- in this context as in every, frankly, in everything that we do. The recovery act is special in many respects but one way is that it requires increased reporting, increased transparency, and increased accountability, and we are trying to take every step that we can to try and make sure that we're using money efficiently. I think on the front end one of the things that we're doing, I think, differently than in the past is we're actually working with the inspector general at the beginning in designing some of these programs, in developing responses to requests for information that we get so that there -- there is no uncertainty or as little uncertainty as we can provide about what these programs are, what they can be used for, what they can't be used for, and how the funds should be used.
SEN. SESSIONS: Can any of the money be used for anything other than law enforcement officers? Can it be used example -- for example -- (inaudible) -- forensic scientists? I'm finding from what I hear that's a big bottleneck in the system. You have all the police officers catching drug dealers and investigating murders and rapes but they can't get the DNA or the chemical analysis done. Is any of that money available for them?
MR. PERRELLI: Well, Senator, what you've just -- you've echoed what we hear from state and local law enforcement all the time. The COPS program itself is for hiring sworn officers. What we see is states and localities applying through the Byrne Competitive Grant Program, which has over $200 million through -- in the stimulus package, and we've seen thousands -- I think (north of ?) 3,000 applications for civilian personnel, many of them the kinds of forensic analysts that you've described and, you know, we -- that -- that has clearly been demonstrated to us through this as a -- a tremendous need in state -- state and local law enforcement authority.
SEN. SESSIONS: Now, if an agency or department applies and why wouldn't they apply? Every good sheriff and police chief wants to do more in their community and if they -- they have every incentive to try to get a free officer funded by the federal government.
Are you able to analyze their proposals for how that will be used and set criteria to ensure that there is a furtherance of a proven initiative that would help reduce crime? How do you decide which departments get officers and which don't?
MR. PERRELLI: Sure. The -- in the COPS program there are -- there are -- there are essentially three sets of criteria -- economic criteria -- this is under the COPS recovery program -- economic criteria; crime factors, so related to the crime rate in the individual community; and then their demonstrated commitment to community policing, and each application is being evaluated on an individual basis using those criteria and the effort is to -- to look at need, both in terms of the -- how economically impacted that community may be in recent times, longer term, the -- the crime rates there, and then what they have done and what they've committed to do in terms of the kind of preventive and creative -- preventive strategies and creative strategies.
SEN. SESSIONS: Have you been able to have the time to think through the possibility of placing other additional criteria on the receipt of these grants that you think would -- would further law enforcement or are you operating basically on the statutory requirements that Congress has given you? How much discretion do you have in terms of policy making with regard to the money that -- that you are distributing?
MR. PERRELLI: We are basically, I think, operating under the statutory criteria, recognizing the recovery act's focus on economic development, the COPS office's traditional focus on crime factors as well as the community policing. Certainly, within that -- the -- the -- you know, there will be an evaluation of particular programs. You know, there -- there are factors like consulting with a U.S. attorney to find out is there actually a problem with a particular department that would suggest that they are not the best department to fund, or history -- has this department not done a good job in the past or has this department done an extraordinarily good job in the past. So those, which may not be precisely statutory factors, certainly come into play.
SEN. SESSIONS: Well, Mr. Chairman, my time is running out. We'll have -- there are some critics of the proposal, as you know. It hasn't accomplished what we'd like it to accomplish in some areas, for sure, and I think you shouldn't hesitate to ask us. I'm sure the chairman -- if you make some recommendations to how to make it better maybe we can get some laws done that will help you. Thank you.
MR. PERRELLI: Thank you, Senator.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Perrelli. Senator Kohl?
SEN. KOHL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Perrelli, while your focus here today is local law enforcement support, juvenile crime prevention and rehabilitation efforts play a big role in reducing crime rates. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act has played a key role in successful state and local efforts to reduce juvenile crime and get kids back on track after they've had run-ins with the law. Positive intervention and treatment at an early stage, we have learned, can prevent further violent behavior and steer young people in the right direction before it is too late.
In addition, some studies have shown that for every dollar that we spend on prevention we save 3 (dollars) or $4 in costs that are attributable to juvenile crime. Senators Leahy, Specter, myself, and others recently introduced legislation to make important improvements to juvenile justice programs. Can we count on your strong support in reauthorizing and strengthening JJDPA?
MR. PERRELLI: Senator, I think we are -- we have been very strong supporters of OJJDP and the juvenile justice programs that it -- it has worked on over many years, and I think the focus of all of our efforts has really been three-pronged, which is prevention, enforcement, and then trying to work on issues such as reentry and reducing recidivism. So we would very much like to work with you on OJJDP reauthorization.
SEN. KOHL: Mr. Perrelli, we cannot underestimate the value of working to keep young people from getting in trouble in the first place. Title V is the only federal program solely dedicated to juvenile crime prevention. Sadly, funding for the Title V Juvenile Crime Prevention Program has been on a steady decline. Last year, Title V received only $64 million for the entire country. That was down from $95 million in 2002.
We know that our local communities can leverage this funding to accomplish great things, but the fact that a successful and critically important program like Title V receives so little funding is deeply troubling. And this year, the president has committed $65 million to Title V Juvenile Crime Prevention. Now is $65 million sufficient to make up for years of inadequate support and is it sufficient in and of itself?
MR. PERRELLI: Well, Senator, $65 million is what the president has chosen to request in this area. I think it has to be seen in a context of both the funding requested through the recovery act as well as in the fiscal year 2010 budget, of a series of programs including funding of, for example, additional funding, for example, of the Second Chance Act, which will hopefully work on re-entry issues, both for adults and juvenile populations, and hopefully address some of the concerns that you've raised, albeit through other programs.
SEN. KOHL: Philosophically, Mr. Perrelli, why do you think there is such a wide difference of opinion between those like yourself who really believe that the federal government can provide assistant to local governments with respect to local law enforcement and juvenile crime prevention programs, and those who don't believe that it does much good at all? I mean, I'm sure you've thought about it a lot. You have some respect, I'm sure, if not considerable for opposing points of view. Why do we have such a deep divergence here?
MR. PERRELLI: I certainly come from the perspective that we're all going to be more effective if we are pulling the oars in the same direction, and that is, means partnership is critical. And I think the federal government plays an important role as one law enforcement agency working with other law enforcement agencies, but also in funding programs that can allow state, local, tribal and federal law enforcement to work together.
Everything that I have seen both in experience and talking to law enforcement officers, such as you'll see on the next panel, law enforcement officers in my family who work then on a COPS grant and have spoken about how significant they thought that was and how effective it was. And I think all the research suggests that where we operate with this unity of purpose, unity of effort, we're going to accomplish more, and that is certainly true in the juvenile justice area.
SEN. KOHL: Well, why do some disagree so strongly?
MR. PERRELLI: I understand the argument that law enforcement, including in the area of juvenile justice is a local function, and the argument that the federal government should not necessarily be involved. But I guess my sense is that it is the officer walking the beat who is going to be the first pe3rson to, going to be the first responder, is going to be the person who may well find out that a bank robbery is occurring before any federal agent becomes involved, as they are more likely to be the person who is going to get a tip that may lead to an investigation related to a terrorism related crime. There's no substitute for the people on the ground in local communities, who know their communities, and that has a tremendous impact on crime prevention and law enforcement across the board.
SEN. KOHL: Thank you very much, Mr. Perrelli.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY (D-VT): Senator Klobuchar.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thank you very much, Senator.
And thank you, Mr. Perrelli, for joining us today, as well as Chief Flynn and Lieutenant Carlson, Chief Flynn from our neighboring state of Wisconsin.
It is a very good topic today. I can tell you I was sitting here thinking about the change the COPS program made in the county where I was the chief prosecutor, Hennepin County. We went from, in the mid '90s where the New York Times dubbed Minneapolis "Murderopolis" to a very low crime rate, and you can literally trace it with that COPS funding. I was listening to your answers to Senator Kohl about the reasons and the need for this funding, the tips for major crimes and other federal investigations.
I would also add just having those police on the beat makes a huge difference for the community because crimes are not committed when those police are out on the beat.
And I would add what Chief Flynn said in his written testimony, that it also, when you have a safer neighborhood, you have a stronger economy ,which was why I was just a strong believer that we needed that COPS funding in the stimulus package, in the economic recovery package. I was glad it was there. We also pushed not to have a local matching grant, which we thought would be very difficult to do in these hard times. My question, I think, first of all is, as you look at the COPS program and the Department of Justice now, are you looking at those local matching grants, if you think there should be changes made to those to make it easier for local communities to get the grants? It may not be the percentage change. It may be other things.
MR. PERRELLI: Well, in both the recovery act and in the 2010 budget, the president's 2010 budget, there is no, the local match has been removed and we've certainly seen, I think it is one factor in why so many communities have applied for funding through the COPS program. It removes an impediment that many state and local, or local law enforcement officials told us was a significant issue, a significant problem and it prevented them from participating in the program. So I think we are interested to see how the program progresses, but we have found that it has been a helpful development.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: And are there other changes you think that could be made with funding for the program or how the funds are given out?
MR. PERRELLI: I think at this point, we want to see how the recovery act progresses. We're going to get an enormous amount of very recent data soon, and we may be able to formulate some legislative proposals then. I think at this point, we don't have anything based on the evidence to suggest.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: I've talked about this with you and others in the Justice Department. I just see this tremendous pressure being pushed down on local law enforcement. You first have the economy which can lead to more crime. The statistics are different on different places. But mostly, you're having these enormous white collar investigations in the Department of Justice and in the U.S. Attorney's offices across the country.
We have a major one, I think the biggest one we've ever had, going in Minnesota right now. I was on the plane yesterday, reading the Vanity Fair article about the Bernie Madoff case from the perspective of his secretary. It made me think a lot about all the resources going in. They described all of the FBI agents and everyone else looking at all those documents. And all of that is getting pushed down now.
As I remember when I was in after 9/11, when the U.S. attorneys' offices were understandably focusing on that, and now they're focusing on white collar and there will be cases coming out of the TARP funds, and cases coming out of some of the stimulus money, corruption cases coming out of that. Do you believe that you're going to see more push on local law enforcement having to do million dollar embezzlement cases and those kinds of things that can't be handled by the U.S. attorneys' offices?
MR. PERRELLI: Well, I think it's certainly true that pressure on local law enforcement is extraordinary right now, both because of the economy and other demands, as you've discussed. One of the things that we have focused on is recognizing that in, through the stimulus program, we need to help work with state and local authorities so that they can recognize then there may be fraud or there may be waste or other problems, and working with them to help them be able to serve that function, because they're going to, they will frequently be on the front lines and be able to work with, take a leading role in working with federal authorities in making sure that money is spent appropriately.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: You also have $225 million Byrne competitive grant program. We have a drug court in our county that made some changes, too, I believe, to make it better in the last few years. Do you plan on suggesting the expanding of drug courts? Do you see community prosecution as a viable way to go? I know that's something that was talked a lot about. In fact, Attorney General Holder used community prosecution when he was the U.S. Attorney in D.C. Could you just comment briefly -- I'm almost running out of time -- on those two programs?
MR. PERRELLI: I think most of those programs, which are, I think, creative solutions, good ways to address all of the problems that we talked about, prevention, enforcement and re-entry, I think are all areas where we are looking, and certainly they have a lot of interest in funding specialized courts like drug courts and have sought some additional funds in the 2010 budget for that.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Okay. Thank you very much.
MR. PERRELLI: Thank you.
SEN. VEAHY: Thank you.
SEN. EDWARD E. KAUFMAN (D-DE): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Some discussion about, obviously, we're all very, very concerned about the COPS program. It's an incredibly successful program and incredibly important program. Can you kind of go though the timing? I know you said it's going to be June, and why it's taking so long to get actually done?
MR. PERRELLI: Certainly. So we received all the applications, and we received eight times, roughly eight times as many applications as we will be able to fund, so the number of applications, I think, has astounded everyone. The process that went forward has been working with states and localities to confirm data, certain numbers, making certain that we have all the information that we need and then we need to go through a process of evaluating all those applications, and there is a very significant number. We're trying to avoid over promising and that's one reason why I think we wanted to have people's expectations be set that late summer or early fall is the appropriate time, but we are essentially trying to do both grant funding of 2009, plus the recovery act grant funding all in a very compressed window.
SEN. KAUFMAN: And what kind of things are you doing to make sure that these, or are you even concerned about making sure that these are geographically distributed across the country? Is that one of your considerations?
MR. PERRELLI: The statute itself that created the COPS program requires that kind of dispersion so that essentially, at least, we have a half of a percent of the overall funds will go to each state, and then money is divided up among large localities and small localities. So the program itself is designed to ensure that the money is disbursed in an appropriate fashion.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Do you think the nonsupplanting provisions of the COPS program acts as a surplus multiplier, or do you think they use the den efficient (sp) use of resources?
MR. PERRELLI: We are working very hard to make certain that the nonsupplantation requirement is complied with, and that states and local law enforcement officials understand what that requirement is and how to comply with it. We don't want states and local law enforcement to plan to get a COPS grant and reduce their budget accordingly. That's not an appropriate use of the funds and we've been very clear about that. I think our hope is that it does turn out to be a force multiplier. Our experience in the past is that it has been so and we are making every effort to make sure that it is again.
SEN. KAUFMAN: When do you think the Byrne grant decisions will be made?
MR. PERRELLI: We've already announced more than $500 million in Byrne JAG recipients for the formula grant and we'll be rolling out the remainder of that $1.9 billion in the coming weeks. The competitive grant, the Byrne competitive grants will take longer as we evaluate what has been, again, a number of historic applications, literally thousands of applications for forensic and other technical non-officer positions, as well as other programs. We are expecting, certainly, that by September 30, but that is, we are in the midst of evaluating that since those proposals have just come in.
SEN. KAUFMAN: I understand in your earlier testimony or questions, you talked about the efficacy of the COPS program.
Do you kind of go through the Byrne, ICAC and STOP programs in terms of what you feel about the efficacy for those?
MR. PERRELLI: Certainly. I think that we are finding that certainly the Byrne JAG program has been a cornerstone of state and local law enforcement for years and I think our experience has been, and certainly the experience provided to us by state and local governments, is that it is essential to them. The internet crimes against children is a little bit newer, but I think as we know, the internet has no bounds and it reaches into every community in America and there is literally nothing, we should spare no expense in trying to address those crimes, prevent them and bring people to justice when it occurs.
I think that our sense is that those task forces are being effective through terrific cooperation with state and local authorities. And also in conjunction with programs which Senator Sessions mentioned, Weed and Feed, and other programs that take a comprehensive approach to dealing with criminal justice issues.
SEN. KAUFMAN: I want to tell you the ICAC program is a wonderful, wonderful program. I wanted to see what you said before I had any say, but clearly we're instituting it in Delaware, but just around the country, the support has been incredible. And what a wonderful thing to be able to do to deal with this incredibly difficult problem and so I really, the ICAC, especially. These are all good programs and the ICAC is especially good. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you for your comments, Senator.
Senator Sessions, (off mike).
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL): I guess I would say that Mr. Perrelli, that you (off mike) management and administration of a number of billions of dollars to try to assist local law enforcement, where fundamentally law enforcement occurs. It's at the local level. We probably have 90 percent of local law enforcement officers, are probably state and local. Is that about right?
MR. PERRELLI: I'm not sure of the number but that wouldn't surprise me.
SEN. SESSIONS: It's a high percentage. Yeah, and they're out there every day and we want to assist them in doing their job better. And I do believe the federal government is the repository and should continue to gather highly valuable studies on what programs work and what programs do not work, and I'm going to pledge to you, if you have ideas that you'd like to shift some of the money that may be going one way to a more effective program another way, we can do some testing and evaluating, and so when a local department decides on policy, they meet and decide they're going to do community policing or they're going to do a drug court, they'll have statistical data they can rely on of the highest quality. I guess my question is, do you feel that responsibility? Is that your fundamental responsibility to recommend that to your superiors, and can be count on you to make sure that we're moving the resources to the most productive areas?
MR. PERRELLI: You can, Senator. I agree with you 100 percent that we need to, there's only, however much money we spend, there's only a limited amount of money. We need to use it most effectively and the only way we are going to be able to determine that is if we use evidence and sound science and research to determine that.
SEN. SESSIONS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you, Senator Kohl and Senator Kaufman.
Mr. Perrelli, thank you. You may want to talk to Chief Flynn's family. With a new child, I know what it's like in your family, trying to get sleep during the night. If it's any consolation, those of us who are parents know what that's like.
MR. PERRELLI: Thank you, Senator. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
SEN. LEAHY: I know you wouldn't. Thank you very, very much.
Now if Lieutenant Carlson, Chief Flynn and David Muhlhausen could come up, please. Thank you.
First witness, Lieutenant Kris Carlson is currently patrol supervisor for the Burlington Police Department. He is a nine year veteran of the department. Currently also serves as commander of the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Lieutenant Carlson has also worked with the Chittenden Unit for special investigations where he investigated hundreds of cases of sexual assault, child exploitation, child abuse and child fatalities. Lieutenant Carlson earned his bachelor's degree in legal studies and criminology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a master's degree in criminal justice from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Lieutenant Carlson, please go ahead. As always, it's great to see you.
KRIS CARLSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much for having me here, and members of the committee.
My name is Kristian Carlson. I'm currently a lieutenant with the Burlington, Vermont Police Department. I've also served as a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for the past nine years in numerous capacities, most currently as commander. I'm honored to be here this morning to discuss the impact of federal stimulus funding via the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Recovery Act Grant.
This funding will have a direct impact on the citizens of Vermont and will enable us to save jobs associated with the Vermont ICAC that would otherwise have been lost. Since our inception, we have observed unprecedented growth in the use of internet and digital devices by those who seek to exploit our children. Although the population of Vermont is one of the smallest in the United States, the ratio of crimes against children facilitated by technology is on a par with national averages, a dark cloud and stark contrast to the picturesque and serene backdrop of the Green Mountains.
These problems are not unique to Vermont, however, as currently, there are 59 ICAC task forces operating in each state, working against similar forces. Since we began investigating computer facilitated child exploitation in 1998 as a state and a nation, we have observed a substantial increase in the number, type and scope of offenses committed utilizing digital technology and the internet. We have also identified the evidentiary value of digital devices and offenses ranging from graffiti to drugs to homicide, including some of the most horrific, those targeting our children and families.
We've watched as our children have grown up in an age of technological wonder and observed our youngest generation master new technologies that we could only have imagined. With ever expanding technology the proliferation of digital devices that continue to shrink in size while rising in capability, and with the overwhelming use of cellular telephones and handheld devices, our children are more at risk than they have ever been, and those who seek to hurt our children have similarly mastered the same technologies.
The resulting impact has been increased demand on local and state law enforcement agencies that lack the training and expertise to engage in these complex investigations and deal with intimidating amounts and scope of digital evidence. In turn, agencies across Vermont have come to rely on the specially trained and experienced members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. As previously noted, the Vermont ICAC has worked closely with federal, state and local agencies in Vermont and the region to investigate computer facilitated child exploitation.
The importance of this effort has been best exemplified in the following high profile investigation. On June 25, 2008, 12-year-old Brooke Bennett disappeared from a tranquil Brookfield, Vermont. The circumstances surrounding Brooke's peculiar disappearance led to the issuance of Vermont's first Amber alert and immediately garnered national media attention. The Vermont ICAC became involved in the investigation immediately to assist in locating Brooke and to develop information regarding her disappearance. This assistance included digital forensic examiners responding to crime scenes, on sight forensic analysis, seizure of digital evidence and investigation of Brooke's use of various internet sites, including the popular social networking site, My Space.
The information developed by the Vermont ICAC quickly focused the investigation on Brooke's uncle, Michael Jakes, and was integral in determining that Brooke was not missing, but had in fact been murdered. This investigation led to a six count federal indictment charging Jakes with the kidnapping of Brooke, resulting in her death, and the production and possession of child pornography. This case serves to highlight how prolific these offenders are, how wide ranging these investigations can be and how vital the Vermont ICAC has become. The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force stimulus funding is being utilized to support our operations by maintaining our current staffing, and increasing our overall capacity statewide.
The funding will be utilized to directly support the employment of current members of the Vermont ICAC, employed by the Burlington Police Department, to include a digital forensic examiner and two investigators. Recovery act funding will also be used to maintain the current contingent of full and part time personnel hired by the Vermont ICAC during the previous grant cycle. This funding will support four forensic examiners, one digital forensic technician and one law enforcement investigator. These positions were created through funding through the ICAC operational grant, the purpose of which was to assist in our overall investigative, forensic and technical assistance endeavors and to allay the overall backlog of investigations and forensic examinations that continue to mount.
Without the funding through the recovery act Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force grant, support of current positions would not be possible and they would be terminated. This would have a devastating impact on our ability to support Vermont law enforcement and serve the citizens of Vermont.
In summary, recovery act grant funding for the Vermont ICAC will assist us in sustaining our operations to prevent, interdict, investigate and prosecute those who exploit our children by allowing us to maintain and expand our staff of trained investigators to investigate offenses and conduct proactive investigations, maintain and expand our staff of digital forensic examiners to conduct a high number of examinations and reduce the backlog of current cases, to work closely with our federal and state prosecutors, to ensure swift and certain punishment of apprehended offenders, and in my opinion, most importantly, to maintain and expand our current program of educational outreach to parents, youth and schools through instruction in the art of internet and online safety.
In closing, I'd like to thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished senators for taking testimony on this important set of issues and for your continued leadership and support and assistance on law enforcement matters in Vermont and across our nation. Thank you.
SEN. LEAHY: I'd also note, Lieutenant, that the director of the FBI even came by your office to praise all those who worked on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. I was very proud to bring him around and introduce him to everybody there.
MR. CARLSON: He did. That was an amazing visit. Thank you.
SEN. LEAHY: He still talks about it.
And Chief Edward Flynn was appointed chief of police for the Milwaukee Police Department in January, 2008. As chief, he oversees 2,000 officers and 700 civilians. Prior to his time in Milwaukee, Chief Flynn served as the chief of police in Springfield, Massachusetts and Arlington, Virginia, as well as serving the Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety under then-Governor Mitt Romney.
Chief Flynn is a member of the board of directors of the Police Executive Research Forum, serves on the Executive Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from LaSalle University, a master's degree in criminal justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He also graduated from the FBI National Academy and the National Institute of Justice, and is a fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. I notice, Chief, both you and Lieutenant Carlson, what a change it was from my days in law enforcement to see now so much of the advanced degrees of law enforcement. Don't you agree with that, Senator Sessions?
SEN. SESSIONS: It's remarkable.
SEN. LEAHY: It's remarkable, and for those of us who served in law enforcement years ago, I think we both agree it's a great change.
Chief, please go ahead.
EDWARD A. FLYNN: You have copies of my remarks, so I won't read them to you, but I will note the following, as I look at the hash marks on my left sleeve. They not only remind me how old I am, but I can trace in them, really, the history of American policing over the last nearly 40 years. And as you reference education in policing, I can remember that when I was in college, it was reading the publication of the president's commission on law enforcement and the administration of justice, The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, that drew me from college to police work.
And it was because of the law enforcement education program that I got my master's degree. And the generation of police officers educated in the early '70s and got their bachelor's degrees and master's degrees under the program, became the generation of police leaders, myself among them, who were both advocates and disciples for community oriented and problem solving policing. And we proudly presided over an era in which there were dramatic decreases in crime and violence in America's cities, with positive outcomes for all to see.
One of the points I want to make as we look at the anticipated reinvestment in American policing and criminal justice, is the fact, for the last number of years, and I certainly knew this firsthand as Secretary of Public Safety in Massachusetts, we presided over a disinvestment in American policing. For understandable, but I sincerely felt at the time, and expressed myself so, wrongheaded reasons, gradually Homeland Security became the monster that ate criminal justice. And during my years as Safety Secretary in Massachusetts, I basically saw Byrne and justice assistance grants and COPS grants funding disappear, while we bought tyvek suits and command vehicles and all matter of first responder gear, and we lost the lessons of community based policing, which is that police connected to neighborhoods learn things about those neighborhoods that can't be learned any other way.
When I was the police chief in Arlington, Virginia, I had the privilege, on that great and terrible day of September 11, of leading the police recovery efforts at the Pentagon. One of the terrorists who was on Flight 77, Hani Hanjour, had received a speeding citation from my police department only a couple of months before. All of these individuals, at some point in time, were embedded in communities that, if connected to policing, we might conceivably have learned about. Certainly we know that now.
So as we look at the lesions of community policing, they apply I many ways, not just to law enforcement, but to anti-terrorism. But there's something else very important about quality police work and quality investments in law enforcement. And that is that I honestly believe that if we're thinking in terms of economic stimulus and how that affects investments in law enforcement, that the most cost effective form of economic stimulus in the central cities of America is public safety. There is no doubt in my mind that crime causes poverty. Crime and the fear of crime close down stores.
When warehouses are investing too much money in burglar alarms and flood lights and barbed wire, when small stores have been robbed or burglared (sp) or shoplifted, they close and take with them entry level jobs and after school jobs. When a city gets a reputation for violence, it not only affects its poor neighborhoods, it affects its central city. Sadly, every time a drug dealer shoots a drug dealer, somebody decides not to go to the opera or not to go to the ballgame, or not to go to the shopping center in the central city. I firmly believe that we have an obligation to every citizen in this country to ensure their public safety, and that their public safety should not be dependent upon their zip code.
And when we live in a country that's proud of its home rule, the fact is that many tax bases have moved away from the cities and left behind extremely vulnerable populations. And one of the things they are vulnerable to is violence.
When we control violence, we change the narrative of the city and if anybody doubts that, just remember when you went to Time Square, New York in the '70s, as I did, and stepped over people sleeping in the subways, had your windshield cleaned dirtily by a squeegee man and were propositioned by a prostitute. Go to Time Square today and it's Disneyland North. And that's directly related, not only to the control of crime but the reduction of fear and the resultant reinvestment in a central city, because people felt that their investment was safe there.
Every port city I've ever worked at, and that would include Chelsea and Springfield, certainly sections of Milwaukee, when a developer came to the city, he only asked one question, is it safe? They didn't ask about the school system, public works or any other aspect of local government. They wanted to know if their investment would be safe. My point here is that economic stimulus money invested in law enforcement is in fact economic stimulus money if we can control crime, we can stir reinvestment in our cities.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you very much, Chief and I appreciate your testimony coming as it does from practical experience, not just from an abstract view of it.
The next --
MR. FLYNN: Just one quick question. I heard that there were numerous applications for the COPS grants, I'm wondering if you have to be here to win.
MR. : It can't hurt.
SEN. LEAHY: There's the guy to talk to, right behind you.
SEN. LEAHY: He's the one I go to, so.
Our next witness is David Muhlhausen, he's a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis. Dr. Muhlhausen has testified before Congress on several previous occasions about law enforcement grant programs, including before this Committee, particularly the COPS Program. He received a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Bachelor's Degree in political science and justice studies from Frostburg State, he's also currently an adjunct professor of public policy at George Mason University. Dr. Muhlhausen welcome back, please go ahead sir.
MR. MUHLHAUSEN: Thank you, glad to be back.
My name is David Muhlhausen. I am Senior Policy Analyst in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation. I thank Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Sessions, Senator Kohl, and also the rest of the committee for the opportunity to testify today. The views I express in this testimony are my own and should not be construed as representing any official position of The Heritage Foundation.
Instead of passing legislation designed to stimulate the economy, Congress treated the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as a political Christmas tree to be filled with goodies for special interest groups. Congress allocated $2 billion for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program and $1 billion for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Both of these grant programs subsidize the routine operations of local law enforcement and rarely, if ever, fund activities that are the responsibility of the federal government.
My spoken testimony will focus on three points:
First, Byrne and COPS grants do virtually nothing to stimulate the economy. These grants do not fund the types of activities that will provide a stimulus or a shock to the economy. Further, these grants do not elevate economic productivity or promote technological advancement, two important ingredients for economic growth. Funding for these programs has either been taxed or borrowed out of the private sector. This transfer of money out of the private sector and into inefficient hands of the government is unlikely to stimulate the economy.
After passage, the stimulus act requires Byrnes and COPS grants to be rapidly spent in 90 and 30 day time periods. The Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the act has foreseen some of the complications created by federal transfers to local governments. The CBO acknowledges that in an environment in which rapid spending is a significant goal, state and local governments that receive stimulus grants might apply some of that funding to activities they would have carried out anyway, thus lowering the long-run economic return of those grants.
More importantly, the CBO estimates that the long run impact of the stimulus act will be increased debt that will crowd out private investment. We note that recently the news is reporting that our national debt for this year is now going to be an estimated $1.8 trillion; that's four times the debt of last year. This act is estimated to reduce the nation's long term economic output.
Second, Congress encourages local officials to shift accountability for funding departments toward federal governments. During the committee's last hearing on this issue, we heard testimony that local governments didn't have enough money to adequately fund their police departments. Given that public safety is the primary responsibility of state and local governments, then these governments should seriously reconsider their budget priorities. If budget shortfalls exist, then funding should be cut from less important services.
Some local governments have recognized that accepting federal grants can create fiscal problems down the road.
For example, Scottsdale, Arizona turned down over $225,000 in Byrne funding. Council members worried that accepting the money would create overhead that would burden future city budgets. They also were concerned that the city would be accepting the money just for the sake of spending it.
In North Carolina, the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office decided against applying for COPS grants due to concerns about the budgetary hole the grant would create after funding ran out.
Third, COPS has an extensive track record of poor performance. A Heritage Foundation evaluation of COPS grants using data from 1990 to 1999 for 58 large cities found that the grants had little to no effect on crime. The hiring grants failed to have a statistically measurable impact on murder, rape, burglary, assault, larceny and auto theft rates. Although the hiring grants were associated with a slight decrease in robberies, the meager effects suggests that additional funding would do little to reduce crime.
In addition, the evaluation found that COPS grants were used to supplant local police spending. This finding is supported by multiple audits conducted by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General.
In conclusion, the addition of Byrne and COPS grants in the stimulus act is precisely the wrong approach to accomplish an economic recovery.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you very much.
Lieutenant Carlson, you mentioned in your testimony that the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce was facing cuts before funding in the stimulus package. What kind of cuts were you facing before the stimulus package?
MR. CARLSON: We were able to hire a number of positions during the last operational grant for forensic analyst law enforcement investigator that were being funded through our operational grant. Give the status of our operational grant currently, there would no way for us to maintain those positions.
SEN. LEAHY: Is there any other summer type unit in Vermont that could have picked up the slack?
MR. CARLSON: There are none, no sir. And you know, this is one of those areas that I think were referenced earlier regarding forensic, when I say forensics we're referring to digital forensics so any devices that are used really for any offense and obviously we focus on child exploitation cases but the collateral benefit to the folks in our unit is that they have the training and experience to look into devices that might be used in other types of offenses as well from as I said, from graffiti to homicide.
SEN. LEAHY: So with the money you have you'd be able to keep those positions now?
MR. CARLSON: Yes, we will be able to keep those positions and be maintaining our current staff as we have it right now and maintain our current operations.
SEN. LEAHY: I think it was because your unique role, actually the one place in the state which is why the FBI director came and toured your operations, including the computer forensic lab. And as a reminder, I might say, just as a personal aside, I was very proud to bring Bob Mueller over there, I think that he was impressed that a state as small as ours could do that. But I think he also understood they could do it only because it was there for the whole state.
MR. CARLSON: Yes. Yeah, and at this point, we have become heavily relied upon by most of the law enforcement organizations across Vermont to include its largest, the Vermont State Police for our expertise in investigating internet related offenses, computer offenses and of course as I mentioned our digital forensic capacity.
SEN. LEAHY: And Chief Flynn you alluded to this in your testimony, you've advocated these funds to support state and local police but how they effect law enforcement and does an area economically. Tell me again, stress again why it is you feel money spent on law enforcement has in effect for economic stimulus beyond the obvious just hiring jobs for law enforcement.
MR. FLYNN: I think it needs to be understood as you watch the cycle of decay and decline of America cities in the '60s and '70s and early '80s, what you saw was a cycle driven not primarily by the economy but primarily by crime and the fear of crime. Those cities that experienced the most urban decay in terms of riots or spikes in crime starting in the '60s lost their middle class, and no city can successfully succeed without a middle working class. When people abandon their cities, they not only take their tax base with them, they take with them social capital, they take with them a leadership capacity, and the vacancies that were left behind, the vacuums that were left behind were proven over and over again in places like Newark and Detroit, I was born in Newark, you know, the Newark of the '70s was not the Newark that I was born in. Its middle class abandoned it. And it abandoned it because a fear of crime.
Now it's also been shown in cities that have made significant strides in crime reduction that economic activity will gradually return. When we look at Milwaukee we've got significant pockets of poverty, we've a 24 percent poverty rate, that's in the top 10 of America. And in neighborhoods that have the worst poverty, they have the least economic opportunity because of the abandonment of many of their shopping districts of the stores that held those neighborhoods together. You know, when warehouses and factories close because their cars are getting broken into, they not only leave a gapping hole in our property tax, they abandon those people who could easily get to work there. People in the central city don't have access to the kind of mass transit that will get them out to some suburb to work.
So we see that cities are already well situated physically. The challenge is can they change their reputation? And I think we can and when we do change that reputation, we get an upsurge in downtown activity, not just a fighting chance to restore some activity or challenge neighborhoods. You remember those are the same neighborhoods to which a generation of criminals that we locked up in the late '90s are now returning and they're returning to neighborhoods that don't have the jobs to support them and I think that return is part of what's challenging our street crime rate right now as we try to hold the line.
SEN. LEAHY: So Dr. Muhlhausen you wrote extensively on this, I heard your testimony, do you believe the federal government should never support state and local law enforcements in Byrne and COPS programs?
MR. MUHLHUASEN: Well I think first of all the COPS program is basically subsidizes salaries of police officers and that's not appropriate federal function.
SEN. LEAHY: So you don't think the federal government should support state and local --
MR. MUHLHAUSEN: Well I think there's areas that in the sense of information sharing and coordination, setting up DNA databases, helping out with task forces that address interstate issues and not intrastate issues. I think the federal government can do a lot to help out helping states and law enforcement coordinate activities across the country but paying for a local officer to walk a beat in his home town is not appropriate function of the federal government.
SEN. LEAHY: My time is up. I'm going to turn the gavel over to Senator Kohl but I yield first, of course, to Senator Sessions.
SEN. SESSIONS: Thank you Chairman Leahy and this is a good discussion and Chief Flynn let me say that I think you're right, that crime does create poverty, it can result in an abandonment of whole neighborhoods and in the past, police have abandoned those neighborhoods. Sometimes they've had hostile receptions there and they've just backed off. And what we've learned wouldn't you agree from community oriented policing that good police officers in any neighborhood will be welcomed and can actually play a role in improving that neighborhood, safety and financial strength?
MR. FLYNN: Absolutely, there's no doubt in the early years of my police career that police were often the flash point for racial discord in the central city and virtually every major urban disturbance of the late '60s and early '70s was in fact caused by a police action. We've seen extraordinary strides in the cementing of positive neighborhood and police relations because now the police are in there, problem solving and working with people in those neighborhoods --
SEN. SESSIONS: I couldn't agree more --
SEN. SESSIONS: Couldn't agree more. In Mobile I was involved with Chief Harold Johnson who came out of the Detroit Police Department, African American leader committed to community oriented policing and it really turned the whole relationship between the people and the police, crime was improved and we did a weed and seed program together with the mayor, with the chief, with the federal agencies that worked remarkably in a whole neighborhood that had been taken over by crime. So I know that can be done. We wanted federal money to do it, but we didn't make the cut for the weed and seed and I'll just say Mr. Muhlhausen it was accomplished without federal money. Later on we got some federal money, but basically it was utilizing the existing police, the existing city's ability to crack down on people who let their houses fall in and won't pick their garbage up and all of those things that go to creating a healthy environment.
Dr. Muhlhausen I would just say that you made some very valuable points. I know people don't like to talk about it, but I am not convinced that just providing bodies small numbers of police bodies and certain selected few departments who are fortunate enough to win the lottery is necessarily an effective crime fighting technique. What I would say Mr. Flynn and Lieutenant Carlson is that the key to it is effective police. Not so much the numbers, now wouldn't you agree Chief Flynn that it was of changing of tactics in New York City under Rudy Giuliani and his team and others that broken windows and other ideas that they promoted not just a number of police officers but the effective deployment of those by imaginative leadership that really made the progress in transforming New York City.
MR. MUHLHAUSEN: They did the best of both worlds, Senator. On the one hand they really did enhance their management accountability systems which was critical, but the New York Police Department did increase from 28,000 to 40,000 over those years.
So I would say it was a combination of good management but also extraordinary resources that enabled them to really drive crime down.
SEN. SESSIONS: And wouldn't you agree that a lot of departments have large numbers of police officers that are not being effectively utilized and that very effective strategies can be help any department improve its productivity and if they're not doing that, they're wasting tax payers' money.
MR. MUHLHAUSEN: I think strategy connected to good data analysis will always do a better job for you than no strategy at all, but certainly having people in the public spaces of our most violent neighborhoods where they're visible and available goes a long way towards driving down fear as well as crime.
SEN. SESSIONS: I understand that, I understand that you and I understand each other. (Exactly ?), you're a professional and I've been at it for a long number of years too. So more police officers are not necessarily help anybody do a better job --
MR. MUHLHAUSEN: Not by itself, sir.
SEN. SESSIONS: -- but you do have to have the mix.
With regard to the task force on internet and child exploitation, I think those things, those kind of activities work Lieutenant Carlson, and I've seen it, I believe in it, people need to have the average police officer doesn't have access to that, you need a specialized group that can support a whole area. Are you supporting more than just your area, the whole state?
MR. CARLSON: We are currently supporting the entire state of Vermont, we have investigations that range from border to border on any given week or month, so we offer our services to anyone that needs them.
SEN. SESSIONS: Now do you expect that the federal government grant money, help you create this capacity and create the computer systems you needed and the personnel you needed to get this program started?
MR. CARLSON: From day one, we've been funded through federal grant funds and have created our entire structure, yes, sir.
SEN. SESSIONS: You would expect that every city and every state in America to have all of these task forces fully funded by the federal government?
MR. CARLSON: I'm sorry?
SEN. SESSIONS: Would you expect that every city, county in America would have the federal government fund those kind of task forces?
MR. CARLSON: Well currently there are 59 throughout the United States and I think the goal is so that not every city and state has a funded task force, but there are regional task forces that can assist larger and broader areas and create that interjurisdictional cooperation that we were speaking about earlier.
SEN. SESSIONS: Well I just know that every department, every sizable department has people that specializes in sexual abuse of children, they're doing the right thing and if we help them create these systems that work, each one of those existing officers can be supported and be a lot more effective, don't you agree?
MR. CARLSON: Absolutely and one of the roles of the task force is just that, is training is that we go out and we train officers from across the state of Vermont to at the very least engage in a lower level type of investigation where they're able to respond to crime scenes that have digital evidence that can do basic lower level patrol officer level forensic examinations on site if needed. So we are actually providing that and we're giving officers throughout the state of Vermont the skills that they need to at least initiate these investigations from the ground and then if we need to come in later on for more complex investigations or for investigative support, we're also there for that as well.
SEN. SESSIONS: Excellent.
SEN. KOHL: Thank you very much, Senator Sessions. Chief Flynn, for many years we've been asking law enforcement to do more with less and so our ability to fight crime has been undermined as a result. With the recent increase support in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act as well as the stimulus bill, what must law enforcement officials do to ensure tax payers that the money, the resources that we are now putting out there to be used by local law enforcement, what can you do to be sure to assure us that the money will be used effectively?
MR. FLYNN: I think that's a very important question, Senator, and I think one of the challenges that Senator Session raises is of the accountability issue, which is are we properly accounting for our use of public assets. We've certainly committed ourselves in the Milwaukee Police Department to being proper stewards of public assets. We have a track record in this last year of carefully managing those assets that the city provides us and have even managed to curtail our overtime, because we've carefully examined our existing business practices in order to create maximum efficiencies, because we recognize that every dollar we save is a dollar we can apply to good law enforcement. So I think it's important that there be strings attached if you will to this money and that there be accountability, and I think we ought to be auditors as to have we spend this money. And if we can draw a nexus between our investments and local capacity and any impact on crime and on fear and on disorder. I believe we can do all three. We've certainly worked very hard in this last year and a half for Milwaukee to be a gated driven police department that managed itself by its metrics, is constantly aware of the changing crime environment.
But we also recognize that there is a felt need on the streets of Milwaukee for a visible, stable police presence. And one must keep in mind in central cities that I wish we could spend all of our time fighting crime. If we could, we could have even a more dramatic impact. But we are the social service agency, a first resort for the poor, and even in our busiest most crime ridden neighborhoods the police department spending 80 percent of its time helping people in crisis, be they the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the alcohol addicted, dysfunctional families, problems with youth, child abuse, all matter of disputes, disturbances, and car accidents, the police department is heavily committed to those duties and tasks. And so consequently it is a challenge for us to identify preventive policing resources. And that's why COPS grants money is so important to us. It allows us to make an extra investment in those police resources so we can provide that foot patrol, so we can provide that bicycle patrol, so we can provide that stable presence in public spaces from which people draw strength and courage and begin to use their neighborhoods.
You know our challenge is to create neighborhoods that can sustain civic life and we do that through the thoughtful application, not just of crime and tax strategies if you will, but problem and neighborhood stabilization. Keep in mind a very important point: the essence of General Petraeus' strategy in Iraq was not defeating the terrorists militarily, it was providing public safety in the cities. He recognized that no society can flourish commercially or politically without a base sense of public safety. And I would offer to all of you that that truism is just as true in our central cities as it is in Mosul and Bagdad. Our challenge is to restore that sense of stability and safety to our challenged neighborhoods so that they can recover politically and economically.
SEN. KOHL: Chief Flynn, while the focus here today is primarily about local law enforcement programs, throughout crime prevention efforts and rehab efforts play a big role in reducing crime rates as you know. The juvenile justice and delinquency Act has played a key role in successful state and local efforts to reduce juvenile crime and get our young people back on track after they've had run ins with the law. What role do your officers play within the juvenile justice system and the programs that are our there to help lead our young people away from getting involved in criminal activity?
MR. FLYNN: Well I'm not, you know, not only proudly a police chief but proudly a member of the executive board of fight crime, invest in kids which you probably know of because they are a non- partisan public education group made up of police chiefs, prosecutors and crime victims who make the point to inform our Congress that research has demonstrated time and again that investments in young people can prevent crime longitudinally, whether it's investments in things like head start or early childcare or investments in after school activities.
Milwaukee is heavily invested in a program known as safe and sound which is a network of locations where young people can go after school whether they're homework clubs or boys and girls clubs or YMCA based leadership activities to have alternatives to the street because our young people are at risk as victims as well as potential criminals.
And much of the trouble that young people get into is after school closes and before their parents get home from work, and our challenge is to provide them healthy opportunities that keeps them out of harm way. I think judicious and thoughtful investments and juvenile justice systems as well as juvenile programming goes a long way towards preventing crime committed by juveniles and just as importantly preventing crime committed upon juveniles because the peer group is always the group that's most victimized by other young people.
SEN. KOHL: How's that safe and sound program work?
MR. FLYNN: I think it's terrific, I mean you know our officers are very engaged with it, it's a very powerful network of service providers in the city who have a wide array of opportunities for young people to participate in events after school. You know, everybody isn't a basketball player, and so it's a challenge to provide a variety of activities that young people can benefit from in a safe environment. And I think it's been a very important component of our continued success in Milwaukee in controlling crime.
SEN. KOHL: Thank you.
SEN. SESSIONS: Thank you Mr. Chairman and with regard to juvenile crime having been a United States Attorney for a long time, I'm well aware of the federal idea that juvenile crime is a local matter and there's almost no arrest of juvenile crimes and Chief you probably seen it, if there's a federal investigation and juveniles get arrested, they usually ask the state and local people to take them because the feds don't have a juvenile detention center, they don't have the system set up with counselors and the kind of things that we use for juveniles and that's just sort of Senator Kohl one of the things that happened over the years is probably good. So strengthening the state and local juvenile systems is a important thing for the country.
Just briefly Chief Flynn how big is your Milwaukee department, how many officers you have?
MR. FLYNN: 2,000 sworn officers and the population I think about 605,000.
SEN. SESSIONS: And how many COPS officers do you have on your team?
MR. FLYNN: Well you know obviously we haven't hired anybody with universal hiring grant money in probably about eight years, but Milwaukee hired I believe 80 officers from that program who became part of our --
SEN. SESSIONS: Over the years?
MR. FLYNN: Yeah.
SEN. SESSIONS: So over I guess ten years or so you hired 80 out of 2,000 so it's not the break through numbers that I think we might understand on the COPS program to be.
Now Dr. Muhlhausen let me ask you to just state for the record one of the criticisms of COPS was that several departments I see one you mentioned one in Mount Desert, Maine, rejected a grant because you have to commit to keep this officer on the payroll right?
MR. MUHLHAUSEN: It wasn't --
SEN. SESSIONS: Just a second. And that's the commitment to the police department if you get a COPS program they pay for three years and then the city or the sheriff is supposed to pay that salary permanently and not reduce the other personnel in the office to pay for it, right?
MR. MUHLHAUSEN: Yes.
SEN. SESSIONS: Now what is the criticism with regard to the faithfulness of the cities who got these police officers in following through on their commitment to maintain this as a permanent increase to the Department? Do you have any numbers on that?
MR. MUHLHAUSEN: Well I think the Inspector General found that abuse was widely just rampant among police departments with COP grants and that was many agency they would hire a police officer through the COPS program while they were actually downsizing. Newark, New Jersey, Canton, New Jersey were recently in the news for they're actually now being held for their abuse during the 1990's. Other police departments, Atlanta, we didn't fund the number of hire the number of officers it claimed, Seattle didn't hire the number of officers it was supposed to.
There was a survey done by a National Institute of Justice that found that police departments that received COPS grants to hire additional officers the majority of them didn't know how they were going to retain the officers in the future. So I think that it sets up a scenario where once you get a COPS grant the fund just for the basic routine services that local governments are supposed to provide anyways, when that grant runs out, they turn around, and whose fault is it that they have to let go the police officer? It's not the local government that's not living up to the grant, it's the federal government because they're not continuing to fund the program.
So now I think we have a lot of pressure now where when it turned the COPS program into a permanent subsidy for state and local law enforcement.
SEN. SESSIONS: Well there's a lot of truth to that. I'm just telling you I know local, I know my police departments and everybody does and you see the, you take any money you can get, they're shortchanged by their counties and city budgets and they are frustrated and if they can get federal money, it's a big asset to them, and they want it. And they going to get it. The question is is this the best way and is it proven to be as effective as we'd like it to be to enhance law enforcement and this has been passed, it's going to be out there and I think all of us just need to do as the chief said, make sure we use every dollar as wisely as we can.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KOHL: Thank you Senator Sessions. Senator Feingold.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you Mr. Chairman for chairing the hearing and of course just like you I want to extend a special welcome to Chief Flynn of the Milwaukee Police Department. I had the opportunity to meet with the chief a couple of months ago and I was very impressed by the innovative ideas he's brought to the Milwaukee Police Department that have in fact resulted in great strides toward lowering the crime rate in that city, so I welcome you. I'm a long time supporter of defender of federal assistance to state and local law enforcement as you know, in particular the Byrne Justice Assistance grants and the COPS grants. It's a partnership between the federal government, the state and local governments to provide adequate funding, it's especially important now when state and local agencies are being tasked with homeland security responsibilities in addition to their law enforcement responsibilities and of course as we know certainly in our state and I know many other states state revenue sources are greatly threatened, diminished by the recession.
I'm pleased that funding to support the available service of the state and local law enforcement provide after being slashed repeatedly by the previous administration were provided in the economic stimulus package that Congress passed this year and now this money has begun to make its way to state and local agencies across the country. It's important that Congress continue to stay informed of the situation on the ground and provide assistance where necessary and appropriate.
And so with that I'd like to really just ask the chief from Milwaukee to answer one question. What would you say have been the most important factors that contributed to the dramatic decrease in violent crime that you have overseen in Milwaukee in the past year? And do you face special challenges in trying to continue to reduce crime during this economic downturn?
MR. FLYNN: I think we've got a benefit by interlocking a combination of circumstances. Number one, I arrived to a police department that was nearly fully staffed.
The mayor had made a major commitment within existing resources to keep the numbers of Milwaukee police officers up to its table of organization level, which was remarkable. With that resource and with a commitment to data driven policing that we developed in our first several months there and a commitment to neighborhoods, those interlocking combinations of community connection data driven analysis to deploy our resources and adequate resources have allowed us to have a dramatic impact on crime.
Last year, we reduced homicides by 32 percent but within that number is a more profound number. The number of African American men between the ages of 15 and 29 murdered in 2008 was 65 percent lower than it was in 2007. From 54 to 19, and that was a relentless focus on our crime hotspots, our gang areas, our open air drug dealing, trying to break up the retaliatory cycle of violence. That takes people. That takes a commitment to getting officers in public spaces. And I sincerely believe it borders on the disingenuous to cite places like Newark and Camden that have been urban blast zones in terms of poverty, unemployment, urban degradation, destruction of the local tax base and then like in Captain Reno in Casablanca he's shocked to find out that the city has used cops off his hiring instead of local assets. They didn't have any money and they had extraordinary crime.
Now I'm not here to defend bad practices, but I've also been a police officer a very long time and seen an extraordinary amount of inner city violence and it's highly concentrated in those cities that have the worst tax bases. Surprise, surprise. What's America's responsibility to its citizens? If you have the accident of birth to be born in Newark, does that mean that you deserve to get shot, but if you get born in Summit, New Jersey, you deserve to be safe? It's absurd. All right.
The safety challenges of American cities are not uniform across the country. And the only agency of government in a position to assist American cities at high risk of violence and American citizens at high risk of violence is to provide local government assistance. I'm looking at a city right now that's got a $40 million operating budget deficit right now as we speak. Why? Because the Stock Market collapsed with the employee pensions and by charter we have to fund it at 100 percent. Now that $40 million has to come out of an operating budget. That's going to put pressure on police and on fire fightings and on roads and on every other such thing.
And so as I'm applying for COPS money trying to hold on to the officers I have and prudently expand the numbers we have, I know I'm going to be challenged going forward to continue to provide a safe environment for our citizens. And because of that, I certainly welcome the renewed interest of the United States government in the safety of its local government citizen.
SEN. FENIGOLD: Well Mr. Chairman I would have been pleased and proud to hear that answer from anyone in law enforcement, but I'm particularly proud that our chief of our largest city would be able to articulate that in such an eloquent and effective way. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KOHL: Thank you very much Senator Feingold.
Gentlemen, you've been a great job, I think the panel's been stimulating, informative, some degree of disagreement here which is also always healthy in trying to get at some of the essentials. So we appreciate your being here and we at this time dismiss the panel.
MR. : Thank you, Senator.