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Cantwell Calls on the President to Double Meth Funds to Help Local Law Enforcement Agencies

Location: Vancouver, WA

Cantwell Calls on the President to Double Meth Funds to Help Local Law Enforcement Agencies

Cantwell legislation would make increases in federal funding permanent; funds would reduce risks posed to law enforcement officials

Following a roundtable discussion with local elected and law enforcement officials from Washington and Oregon , U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called on President Bush to come to the aid of America 's communities by doubling federal funding to fight methamphetamine abuse in his forthcoming budget. Bush is expected to release his budget on February 7, and Cantwell challenged him to include at least $100 million in federal support for local officials to battle the devastating drug. Cantwell announced that she will file legislation next week to make permanent anti-meth funding increases.

"The President's budget needs to make the safety of our local law enforcement officials a national priority," Cantwell said. "We need to show federal support for the officers on the frontlines of the meth epidemic, rather than shifting the burden onto local communities."

Cantwell sent a letter to Bush today asking that he include the increased funding in the Department of Justice's Byrne Grant program, which distributes federal funds to state and local law enforcement agencies to fight methamphetamine abuse. [The text of Cantwell's letter follows below.]

Last year, helped by funds that Cantwell secured for the Washington Methamphetamine Initiative, the City of Vancouver Police Department purchased masks to protect their officers from inhaling toxic chemicals during meth busts. Cantwell believes that providing more communities with the resources to reduce the risks posed to law enforcement officials is a critical component of the fight against meth abuse.

Cantwell hopes to reverse the trend of declining federal support for the fight against meth. In fiscal year 2002, meth enforcement and clean-up efforts received $70 million. The fiscal year 2005 appropriation fell 25 percent, to $52.5 million. Unfortunately, local communities currently have to depend on annual earmarks for assistance in the fight against meth, as there is no formal federal program to backstop their efforts.

Cantwell held a roundtable today at the Vancouver Police Headquarters with Clark County Sheriff Gary Lucas, Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto, Commander Rick Smith of the Vancouver Police Department, Clark County Commissioner Betty Sue Morris, Brian DeDoncker of the Clark County Health Department, and Vancouver City Manager Pat McDonnell. They discussed the need for increased federal funding to combat methamphetamine and reviewed safety equipment used by law enforcement officers at meth sites.

The group of officials was previously scheduled to visit a meth site today in Vancouver with Cantwell. However, a review of the site prior to the event by the Vancouver Police Department determined the location would not be safe, and asked Cantwell to move her visit to the Vancouver Police Headquarters.

During the roundtable today, local officials stressed to Cantwell that meth producers have easy access to precursor drugs that are used to produce methamphetamines, which places a major obstacle in their efforts to make their communities meth-free.

"We need to make sure these precursor drugs are harder for dealers to obtain," Cantwell said.

Although Washington state received $2 million in fiscal year 2005 federal funding to fight meth, it received $4 million as recently as fiscal year 2002. As a state, Washington spent $56 million fighting meth in fiscal year 2004.

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