Senators Seek to Restore Law Enforcement Funding

Press Release

By:  Kit Bond Tom Harkin Saxby Chambliss Joe Biden, Jr. Dianne Feinstein
Date: March 31, 2008
Location: Washington, DC

Bi-partisan group seeks an additional $490 million for the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants

Today US Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kit Bond (R-MO), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Joe Biden (D-DE) joined a bipartisan group of 51 other Senators in sending a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations seeking $489.6 million in this year's supplemental appropriations bill for the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne/JAG) program. The additional funding would restore Byrne/JAG funding for the current fiscal year to $660 million, the same level that the Senate originally provided for in the Commerce Justice and Science Appropriations bill that passed last year.

While the Senate provided $660 million for Byrne/JAG grants, following a veto threat, the Omnibus Appropriations bill that ultimately passed funded the programs at only $170 million. This funding level represents a more than two-thirds drop from the 2007 level, and is down from nearly $900 million in 2002.

The Byrne Grant Program, named after a police officer killed by a violent drug gang twenty years ago, is the only source of federal funding for multi-jurisdictional efforts to prevent and fight crime. Byrne funding is critical to creating regional cooperation to fight the manufacture, distribution, and use of narcotics, including methamphetamine. Byrne Grants also help pay for police training, technology and crime prevention programs. The grant program has resulted in major innovations in crime control, including drug courts, gang prevention strategies and prisoner re-entry programs.

"Sheriffs and police officers from communities large and small have told me that Byrne Grants are essential to fighting the war on drugs," said Senator Harkin. "In Iowa, the cut will lead to layoffs and the elimination of 15 of our 21 drug task forces. We cannot continue to slash the funding for such a vital program that has proven successful in keeping drugs and criminals off the street and making our neighborhoods safer."

"Despite the critical role our drug task forces and law enforcement officials play keeping our families and neighborhoods safe, federal funding for local law enforcement has gone down, which is why I am fighting to restore funds to this critical program," said Senator Bond. "There must be a local, state and federal partnership to keep our communities safe and I will do everything I can to get local law enforcement the federal assistance they need to ensure our families are protected."

"I have heard first-hand from Georgians that this funding is critical to their efforts in keeping our citizens in both rural and urban communities safe," said Senator Chambliss. "If we're serious about protecting our communities, keeping drugs off our streets, and preventing future crime, then we must give our local law enforcement personnel the resources they need to carry out their duties."

"Fighting crime and making our communities safer takes constant attention and a steady commitment," said Senator Biden, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs. "These grant programs support the police officers and sheriffs who walk our streets; task forces that take down the worst criminals threatening our communities; community organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs that provide a safe, constructive environment for kids; and the drug courts and treatment programs that literally save lives. It's time to renew our commitment to these critical programs and restore the Byrne JAG funding."

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