Issue Position: Public Safety and Criminal Justice
One of the most fundamental responsibilities of government is to keep citizens safe from harm. As Coloradans, we can take pride in the relative safety of our streets compared to many other communities, but we continue to have a serious meth production problem (even in rural communities), and gang violence has been on the rise. Over the years I have gone on "ride-alongs" with units in Thornton, Westminster and Northglenn while serving my Congressional District. I have found that accompanying police officers on their nightly and weekend patrols has given me a better feel for the dangers they face, and a deep appreciation for the problem of crime on our streets. As your Senator I will maintain close ties with local and state law enforcement, and do all that I can to address the needs of our law enforcement officers.
Support of State and Local Law Enforcement
First and foremost, it is critical that we provide our police forces with the resources they need to do their jobs. Our state and local law enforcement agencies are the best protectors of our safety because of their combination of training, talent and knowledge of their local communities, but the federal government can play a useful supporting role.
I believe my record is clear with regard to strengthening our state and local police forces:
* I voted to reauthorize the Community Oriented Policing (COPS) program (H.R. 1700). The bill provided $6.9 billion for the COPS program, and also added a number of new policing activities, such as those designed to reduce the distribution and abuse of illegal drugs, for which the program could award grants.
* I have repeatedly supported maintaining and increasing COPS funding, which states have used to encourage people to enter law enforcement, pay law enforcement overtime, reimburse police officers for higher education costs, and increase salaries for workers in the Federal Prison System.
* I am a cosponsor of the "Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act" (H.R. 1582), which would give state and local law enforcement additional resources to investigate and prosecute violent gangs, and to deter and punish violent gang crime.
* I supported the "Justice for All" Act (H.R. 5107) in 2004, which eliminated the substantial backlog of DNA samples collected from crime scenes and convicted offenders, improved and expanded the DNA testing capacity of Federal, State, and local crime laboratories, and increased research and development of new DNA testing technologies.
At the federal level, we need to do more to address the problem of juvenile crime.
I have repeatedly voted for juvenile justice legislation that gives states the power to do just that. I voted for the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 1999 (H.R. 1501) which would have imposed new mandatory minimum sentences on youths who commit crimes with guns and would have authorized $1.5 billion over three years for grants to states seeking to improve their juvenile justice systems. I also supported similar legislation in the 107th Congress (H.R. 863) that eventually became law and allocated $1.5 billion to states conditioned on the states implementing graduated sanctions for juveniles who were repeat offenders. I also have supported legislation that fights crime by allocating resources to states for mentoring, state challenge activities, boot camps, gang prevention, and victims of child abuse and neglect.
In many areas across our state, lives have been ruined by the abuse of illegal drugs, especially methamphetamines. We have a particular obligation to our children and ourselves to prevent drugs from impacting out communities. I have taken several actions in Congress to help control the use and distribution of illegal drugs, including:
* Voting to reauthorize the Office of National Drug Control Policy and associated programs in the 109th Congress (H.R. 2829), including voting on amendments that would authorize $1 million for FY 2007 for the establishment of a National Methamphetamine Information Clearinghouse to promote information-sharing regarding law enforcement, treatment, environmental concerns, and social services relating to methamphetamines abuse; and 286 million to task forces funding state efforts to curb the production and distribution of methamphetamines in 2005.
* Supported legislation to allocate greater funding and government resources to combat methamphetamine distribution and abuse.
* Consistently supporting legislation that increases funding for "High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas" program and reauthorization of the National Drug Control Policy Office. The program serves to provide federal assistance to better coordinate and enhance counter-drug law enforcement efforts where major drug production, manufacturing, importation and distribution flourish.
* Supporting legislation (H.R. 2130) that would put several drugs used to facilitate date rape under the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and legislation that would stiffen penalties for possession of the drugs associated with date rape.
* Voting for an amendment to the Juvenile Justice Bill (H.R. 1501) in 1999 that would make controlled substance manufacturers liable for any person harmed directly or indirectly by the use of that controlled substance, and an amendment that would require any school accepting federal education funds to adopt a zero tolerance policy regarding possession of felonious quantities of drugs.
I also support taking steps to ensure that substance abuse treatment is more readily available to those who are willing to get their lives back on track.
A good reputation is an invaluable resource, only earned through consistent good character and hard work. Sadly, more and more Americans are being victimized by identity theft-a crime where a hard earned reputation is torn to shreds through criminal activity. I believe we must do all we can to stop the occurrence of identity theft. I helped Congress take the first step towards prevention of identity theft when we passed the "Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act" (H.R. 1731). The law established penalties and enforcement mechanisms to stop individuals engaged in identity theft. I am also a cosponsor of the Identity Theft and Financial Privacy Protection Act of 2003 (H.R. 2035) which would obligate issuers of credit cards to watch out for identity theft and fraud, would mandate truncation of credit and debit card account numbers, and would require consumer reporting agencies to furnish information in a consumers file upon request.
I believe we still have work to do with regard to reform of criminal justice system, and as your Senator I will work to make sure that our system works to punish and prevent crime.