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Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 2112, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PASCRELL. I thank the gentleman from Washington for yielding.

I want to thank Mr. Dicks for his leadership on this issue. I want to thank Mr. Rogers for his open-mindedness, as usual, hopefully as we go into this discussion.

As cochair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus, I want to call everyone's attention to one of the glaring differences between the bill the Senate passed earlier this week and the one reported by our own Appropriations Committee: Funding for our local police officers.

The Senate bill contained $232 million for the COPS office, including $200 million for COPS hiring. This bill completely eliminated funding altogether. We're here today to try to rectify that situation.

Mr. Speaker, we know that State and local governments are still slashing their budgets as a result of the recession. In fact, just last week the Department of Justice released a sobering report, ``The Impact of the Economic Downturn on American Police Agencies.'' I think all of our Members should read it. I want to place this as Exhibit A in my presentation today, Mr. Speaker, into the Record.

The report revealed that nearly 12,000 law enforcement officers will lose their job this year alone. Another 30,000 positions remain unfilled, and 2011 would produce the first national decline in law enforcement officers in 25 years.

Less cops on the beat means more crime on the streets, plain and simple. It is a very specific aspect of this particular problem. It's not going to get better.

I work very closely with my counterpart, Representative Reichert, who was a sheriff's officer in Washington State, to cochair the Law Enforcement Caucus. Earlier this year, 115 Members of this body, Republicans and Democrats, supported these programs in a letter to appropriators.

It is just not enough, Mr. Speaker, to pat our police officers on the back. We must support them. The Federal Government has a particular responsibility, specifically, to debate the issue and look at the issue of homeland security. They're the first there, our firefighters. If there's any manmade disaster or act of nature, they show up first before anybody from the Federal Government.

To see the number of police officers being reduced in this country is unconscionable, particularly after 9/11. Our crime is rising specifically in the towns where these police officers have been laid off, furloughed, demoted--and certainly lack the promotions. The Federal Government has some responsibility here.

I would also like to place into the Record a very strong statement on the issue of the matter of crime in our cities and in our towns. I will make that Exhibit B.

I think the homeland security issue is a critical issue. But let's bring it back to our own towns. Police departments in the United States now have put on a list of priorities what they're going to respond to and what they cannot respond to.

Listen to these. They've stopped responding to motor vehicle thefts in many towns. They've stopped responding to burglar alarms that go off. They've stopped responding to non-injury motor vehicle accidents. In many towns, the warrant squads--if you don't know what a warrant squad is, then you don't know what police departments do day in and day out. They've minimized, two or three people left to try to find the folks that have perpetuated crimes in our communities.

They've reported decreases in investigations of property crimes. You talk about a response when you call the police department. Wait till you see the response in terms of investigating these particular crimes.

This has all come out under the Justice Department. I'm not making these numbers up. That's why I submit for the Record the numbers.

Let me just conclude, Mr. Speaker, in saying this has to be a priority. Protecting the public is our primary priority, and I ask consideration of what the gentleman from Washington is putting forth today.


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