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Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BROWN of Florida. Mr. Chairman and Members of the House, I'm very excited that finally we have an amendment that I think everybody can support since everyone supports law enforcement.

This amendment fully funds the Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Program in the amount of $20 million. This program was designed to help local government respond to extraordinary law enforcement emergencies after they have exhausted their own budgets. The Emergency Law Enforcement Assistance Program authorizes the Attorney General to provide funds, equipment, training, intelligence, and personnel to alleviate the financial impact of unforeseeable emergency law enforcement situations.

This program was authorized in 1984 but has not been funded since 1996. Had it been funded, this program would have helped a community in my district. In October of 2007, a 7-year-old girl, Somer Thompson, went missing on her way home from school. The Clay County sheriff's office followed garbage trucks and found Somer's body in a Georgia landfill 2 days later. Thanks to this quick thinking, her killer was captured and will never harm another child.

Investigations like this one cost a lot of money. Overtime, lab tests, travel costs, and numerous unforeseen expenses can blow even the most prudent budget. Small communities simply lack the resources to pursue investigations on this scale. The sheriff told me he had exhausted his budget for the year on overtime just for this one case.

I did what I could to help scrape together grants from other sources, but this program would have filled the gap. By the way, the sheriff and almost everyone in Clay County is a Republican, but this is not about party. It's about doing what is right. In an era when local government can barely afford the police they have, a major crime can wipe them out and leave the community more vulnerable. The basic purpose of government is to protect the citizens. This amendment will make sure police can do it without worrying about a crisis that will break their budget.


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