In a show of bi-partisanship, U.S. Reps. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) continued their fight to preserve federal funding for two crucial law enforcement programs, the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program . The Law Enforcement Caucus Co-Chairs recruited 143 colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support a letter advocating for the programs' inclusion in the Department of Justice appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013.
Rep. Reichert: "The tremendous support that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have shown demonstrates our commitment to continue the support of these programs and through them the communities kept safe by the men and women of local law enforcement. I'll continue to work in Congress on these brave officers' behalf to ensure that they have the tools and resources needed to keep citizens safe. Supporting local law enforcement is vital to protecting every community across the nation.
"The COPS program strengthens our first line of defense against threats to our homeland security by helping communities keep police working on the streets. It is also an investment in maintaining a healthy economy in Main Street America as well as a better quality of life in our hometowns. The Byrne JAG program provides federal resources for comprehensive initiatives that combat criminal activities including gang violence and drug trafficking," said Rep. Pascrell. "I have been proud to work alongside Congressman Reichert in the fight to maintain funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services program as well as the Byrne/JAG program. In the course of hammering out next year's national budget, our message to the Appropriations Committee is clear: We stand in bipartisan unity in support of public safety."
The Byrne JAG program is the primary provider of federal funding to state and local jurisdictions and supports nearly all elements of the criminal justice system. The COPS hiring program is designed to improve public safety to increase community hiring. In the last 15 years, the COPS office has funded the addition of nearly 115,000 officers to more than 12,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to increase hiring and, as a consequence, community policing and crime prevention efforts.
Aside from the 143 Members of Congress, the initiative to continue funding these crucial programs is supported by 45 Attorneys General, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Criminal Justice Association and numerous state, local and federal law enforcement organizations.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Chairman Wolf and Ranking Member Fattah:
Thank you for your ongoing and diligent efforts to appropriately rebalance limited resources in this difficult fiscal climate in order to support our nation's highest priorities. As you begin to craft the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriation bill for Fiscal Year 2013, we urge you to include sufficient funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) programs, in particular the COPS Hiring program. These programs are critical to ensuring that state and local law enforcement have the tools, personnel, and resources necessary to protect and serve their communities.
The federal government has an important and appropriate role to play in helping to prevent and fight crime which knows no boundaries. The Byrne JAG and COPS programs are the cornerstone federal justice assistance programs that support this crucial role. Since their inception, the Byrne JAG and COPS programs have enabled law enforcement agencies to form vital partnerships among communities and law enforcement officers, combat criminal activities, and develop and implement problem-solving and crime prevention programs nationwide. The two programs work hand-in-hand to provide evidence-based and innovative programs to address a multitude of problems within the criminal justice system.
The strength of the Byrne JAG program is in its impact across the criminal justice system, from law enforcement to prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, program planning, evaluation, technology improvement, and crime victim and witness initiatives. Byrne JAG funds can be deployed quickly to address emerging trends, such as gang violence, the manufacture of methamphetamine or, more recently, prescription drug abuse.
The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office and its corresponding programs provide invaluable resources and technical assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies. Since its inception, the COPS Hiring program has placed over 115,000 officers in communities across the United States to advance community policing and crime prevention efforts. These are critical bodies on the street patrolling high crime neighborhoods and working on drug and gang task forces. While the COPS Office is well known for its hiring program, it also provides many other valuable resources and support to assist law enforcement to update technology, strengthen school safety, assist tribal territories, prosecute child sexual predators, and enhance methamphetamine reduction efforts.
In this tough economic time, when there have been increases in violent crime, drug sales, and threats to our homeland security, it is essential that law enforcement has the resources necessary to effectively and efficiently protect the public. Continued investment in the Byrne JAG and COPS programs is critical to ensuring our law enforcement men and women have the support and tools necessary to keep themselves and our families safe. In recent years, law enforcement agencies have watched their budgets diminish significantly, resulting in agencies making extremely difficult sacrifices. For example, many law enforcement agencies have been increasing the size of an officer's patrol area and decreasing the number of officers on a shift due to a lack of available personnel. These setbacks not only pose a serious risk to officers who may now patrol a high-crime area alone or wait longer for back-up; they also hamper law enforcement's ability to effectively and efficiently fight and prevent crime in communities.
We appreciate the difficulty you face in appropriating adequate resources for the programs under your jurisdiction. Continued support for the Byrne JAG and COPS Hiring programs is imperative to the success of law enforcement in keeping our communities safe. These programs supplement the manpower and incentivize the collaboration across agencies necessary to build upon successful crime reduction efforts over the past 20 years. For these reasons, we respectfully request that you include strong funding for the Byrne JAG and COPS programs, especially the COPS Hiring program, in the FY2013 CJS appropriations bill.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
David G. Reichert Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress Member of Congress