By Meredith Ward, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
ecently, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informed state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies that funding to assist in the cleanup of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories has been exhausted and, at this time, there is not an expectation of additional funding.
The IACP has learned that if additional funding becomes available, the amount will be very small. However, the DEA has stated that any additional funding that may become available will be provided to those states that have hazardous waste container programs. Once that funding is expended, the DEA will no longer be able to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement with contractor support for hazardous waste removal from approved container programs or clandestine lab sites.
Up until fiscal year (FY) 2010, Congress appropriated funding for state, local, and tribal clandestine lab cleanups under the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. In FY 2010, the COPS office was authorized to transfer $10 million to the DEA to continue to administer the program; however, this level of funding was not adequate to address the increasing demands on the program. The IACP has learned that the DEA has pursued alternative funding streams for lab cleanup and will continue to do so.
Tragically, the number of meth labs has increased dramatically over the past few years. According to the DEA, state, local, and tribal agencies seized 3,636 meth labs in 2008; 5,513 in 2009; and 6,294 in 2010. Even though these numbers are alarming, it is important to note that they do not represent a complete picture of the meth lab problem. Sadly, many state and local law enforcement agencies simply do not have the staff resources to report meth lab seizures. Even more troubling, there are many other labs that are unknown to law enforcement.
But perhaps the most disturbing is the number of children, all innocent victims, who are injured by living in or around meth labs. In 2010, 1,647 children were injured because of their proximity to meth labs.
The IACP is deeply troubled by these statistics and is working with federal and congressional partners to find an emergency fix and a long-term solution to this problem. In addition to requesting that Congress reinstate funding in the current and FY 2012 budgets, the IACP also is working with federal agencies to fix this problem.
IACP President Mark Marshall recently sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting a review of this issue. In the letter, President Marshall wrote that the growing number of meth labs in the United States is very troubling to state, local, and tribal law enforcement. President Marshall also noted that states and localities simply cannot sustain cleanup efforts without federal aid.
President Marshall wrote, “The IACP is committed to working with federal agencies, Congress, and our other law enforcement partners to find a successful long-term solution to this critical problem. In the meantime, I respectfully request that the EPA pursue additional sources of emergency funding to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in the cleanup of these dangerous labs. I also ask the EPA to work with the law enforcement community to find a more permanent solution to this grave problem. Meth labs represent a serious environmental and public health issue, and state, local, and tribal law enforcement must have the assistance of the federal government.”
IACP Releases the Law Enforcement Action Agenda for the 112th Congress
The IACP recently released the Law Enforcement Action Agenda for the 112th Congress, which provides a concise overview of the critical issues facing the law enforcement community and containsrecommendations for congressional action.
Topics covered in the action agenda are the following:
- Establish a National Criminal Justice Commission
- Ensure Adequate Funding for State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement
- Focus on Terrorism Prevention
- Promote Intelligence and Information Sharing
- Secure the Borders/Enhance Federal Immigration Enforcement
- Reduce Firearms Violence and Target Illegal Guns
- Combat Illegal Narcotics
- Establish a National, Interoperable Broadband Public Safety Network
- Improve Highway Safety
The IACP believes that now, perhaps as never before, Congress must act to ensure that the needs of the law enforcement community are addressed. In recent years, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies have played an ever-increasing role in the nation’s homeland security efforts and have been asked to tackle new challenges and confront a multitude of new threats.
To download a copy of the agenda, visit the IACP website at http://www.theiacp.org. ■
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, "IACP Works to Restore Assistance Funding for Meth Lab Cleanup," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 78 (May 2011): 8.