Biden Scores A Victory for COPS
The U.S. Senate last night unanimously approved a bipartisan amendment authored by Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), to the FY 2006 federal budget to restore funding for critical law enforcement grant programs like COPS, the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program. The President called for over $1 billion in cuts to these programs. The Kohl-Biden-Specter-Hatch amendment will restore $500 million in funding for these crime-fighting initiatives.
"Cutting crime is like cutting the grass. You've got to keep at it. The budget the President sent us decimates programs relied on by local law enforcement. I am glad the Senate approved our bipartisan amendment to restore at least some of the Administration's mindless cuts," said Biden, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime.
COPS funds can be used to hire community police officers and purchase new crime-fighting equipment for police departments. Delaware has hired over 220 new community policing officers. Byrne funds are used in the state to fund proactive crime and drug prevention programs. The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program facilitates cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement to reduce the supply of drugs. Last year, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas disrupted or dismantled more than 509 international, 711 multi-state and 1,110 local drug trafficking organizations.
"The Administration keeps telling us they are shutting these programs down because we need to focus on homeland security instead. But the dirty little secret of the homeland security grants is that not one dime of those funds can be used to hire a new officer. Just this month, the President's new Attorney General agreed with me that the COPS program helps cut crime, and that hiring more police officers helps keep the crime rate low. If that's the case, I cannot understand why he wants to eliminate it," Biden said.
In the budget he submitted to Congress in February, the President called for $118 million for the COPS program - with no funding to hire officers for the fourth consecutive year. The President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police called the budget "unacceptable" and stated that "when I saw the President's budget, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach."