BIDEN: Now is Not the Time to Stop Investing in Law Enforcement
U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, reiterated his call for the Congress and the Administration to fully support state and local law enforcement in wake of new data detailing nationwide decreases in murders, robberies and other felonies.
"After two years of rising crime in this country, hopefully today's announcement marks the start of a new downward trend in crime rates," said Sen. Biden. "Still, the decreases announced today are modestthere are nearly 1.4 million violent crimes and over 17,000 murders in America every year, and that's simply too many. This Administration has taken the wrong approach the last several years, cutting the fiscal legs from under the state and local law enforcement officers who have made these declines possible. Fighting crime and making our communities safer takes constant attention and a steady commitment. Now is not the time to stop investing in state and local law enforcement."
According to news reports today previewing the FBI's annual crime report based on data from the United Crime Reporting (UCR) database, law enforcement agencies throughout the Nation reported a decrease of 1.4 percent in the number of violent crimes brought to their attention in 2007 when compared with figures reported for 2006. The 2007 report indicated that 1.4 million Americans were victims of violent crime, more than 445,000 were robbed, and more than 17,000 were murdered. Despite the decreases cited in today's report, crime rates are still up since 2003-2004, with violent crime up 1.6 percent and robbery up 6.8 percent.
"The Bush Administration has repeatedly ignored the needs of law enforcement, slashing overall funding for state and local law enforcement by billions," said Sen. Biden. "They've eliminated the COPS program, Byrne Justice Assistance Grants and decimated homeland security funding. This Administration is endangering the safety and security of our communities by shortchanging the men and women who keep us safe everyday."
A recent poll published by the non-partisan Third Way indicates that 94 percent of Americans view crime as a "very serious" or "fairly serious" problem. Moreover, 69 percent of Americans feel that violent crime is a bigger threat to them than the possibility of a terrorist attack. The Third Way also reports that there are several "major sociological trends that will, if left unchecked, endanger American communities in the coming decade."
Sen. Biden, former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and author of the 1994 Crime Bill, has continuously fought efforts by the Bush Administration to cut back federal funding for local law enforcement. In recent years, the Administration has eliminated billions in guaranteed federal funding for local law enforcement and the FBI has largely transitioned from domestic crime fighting to counter-terrorism, creating a gap that has hindered law enforcement's ability to combat crime. To re-establish the Federal, State and local partnership that helped reduce crime to historic lows in the 1990s, Senator Biden introduced the 2007 Biden Crime Bill, the most comprehensive anti-crime legislation in over a decade.
The FBI will publish its full annual crime report using data from the United Crime Reporting (UCR) database later this summer. The UCR Program was created in 1929 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police to provide reliable, standardized crime statistics for the nation. Each year, over 12,000 law enforcement agencies voluntarily provide crime reporting data, and this information is compiled to evaluate and track the levels and types of crimes committed in the county. For over 70 years, the FBI has collected and published these statistics.