By Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, International Association of Chiefs of Police
n March 21, IACP president Joseph Carter testified before the House Committee on Appropriations during the Department of Justice overview hearing. President Carter discussed the disturbing spike in violent crime in the United States and called for increased funding for law enforcement to combat this dangerous trend.
In his testimony, President Carter stated that during the past 15 years, law enforcement has made tremendous strides in reducing the level of crime and violence in our communities. This has been accomplished, he said, in part because law enforcement officers have an intimate knowledge of their communities and because they have developed close relationships with the citizens they serve.
President Carter continued, “Despite the best efforts of our nation’s law enforcement officers, the disturbing truth is that each year in the United States, well over a million of our fellow citizens are victims of violent crime.” President Carter was referring to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, which detailed that violent crime rose at a rate of 2.5 percent during 2005. That figure means that 31,479 more people were victims of violent crime than in the year before. The report also stated that, for the first six months of 2006, the crime rate rose at a rate of 3.7 percent, as compared to the same time frame in 2005. If this rate holds for the remainder of the year, it would mean that an additional 47,000 Americans would find themselves victims of violent crime.
While there are many different theories of why violent crime is increasing in these communities after years of often double-digit declines, one fact remains: no place is immune. As President Carter stated, “what were once considered ‘urban’ problems—drug addiction and distribution, violent crime, gangs, and poverty—have migrated to suburban and even rural locations.”
For example, in cities with populations of 25,000 to 50,000, the violent crime rate rose by more than 8 percent from 2004 through the first six months of 2006. In towns with populations of 10,000 to 25,000, the homicide rate went up more than 6.5 percent over the same two-year period. President Carter continued, “It is telling that this increase in crime in America, violent and otherwise, corresponds to the substantial decline in funding for local and state law enforcement from federal government assistance programs.”
In the years since 2001, programs that aided law enforcement efforts—the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG), Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention programs—have suffered significant budget reductions. As President Carter stated, “This is both unfortunate and shortsighted for these programs have consistently demonstrated that they provide valuable and critical resources to the state, tribal, and local law enforcement community. By reducing, and in some cases eliminating, funding for these successful programs, Congress and the administration have significantly reduced the ability of law enforcement agencies to combat both crime and terrorism. The simple truth is that today, police departments throughout the nation have far fewer officers and resources than they did in the 1990s.”
President Carter continued to detail proposed budget cuts in the administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Budget Proposal, commenting that additional cuts are simply unacceptable. “State, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies are on the front line of effective terrorism prevention.” As a result of their daily “efforts to combat crime and violence, state, tribal, and local law enforcement officers are uniquely situated to detect,investigate, and apprehend suspected terrorists.” President Carter concluded his remarks by saying, “If our efforts to reduce crime and promote homeland security are to have any chance of succeeding, it is absolutely vital for Congress and the administration to make the necessary resources available that will allow . . . law enforcement [agencies] to mount . . . effective anticrime programs, which are also effective antiterrorism programs.”
Holding hearings is the first step in the FY 2008 budget process. The IACP will keep members updated on any developments in this process.
A copy of President Carter’s testimony may be found on the IACP Web site.1
Critical IACP-Supported Law Enforcement Measures Pass Senate
On March 23, the Senate approved two IACPsupported amendments to the FY 2008 Budget Resolution. The two amendments would fully fund the COPS program at $1.05 billion and the Byrne-JAG program at nearly $1.1 billion. The COPS provision will provide state and local law enforcement agencies with critical resources to hire community police and school resource officers, as well as to purchase new technologies to help the law enforcement community detect and prevent acts of crime. The Byrne-JAG resolution is intended to provide support to state and local drug task forces, community crime prevention programs, substance abuse treatment programs, prosecution initiatives, and many other local crime control programs.
Fully funding programs such as COPS and Byrne-JAG will aid the law enforcement community in reducing crime and in mounting successful and effective anticrime programs. These programs will help ensure that law enforcement has the resources necessary to maintain the level of service their citizens expect and deserve.
The budget process is still in the preliminary stages, and it is important to note that the budget resolution is nonbinding. However, the resolution does serve as a fiscal blueprint that sets broad goals and specific spending levels for the coming fiscal year. It does not fund the federal government; rather, it guides the actions of appropriators who come up with the final budget each year. Budget resolutions outline multiyear spending and revenue goals and make deficit projections. The resolution does not require the president’s signature.
Throughout the budget process, the IACP will work closely with Congress to ensure that the needs of the law enforce ment community are met in FY 2008.
1Statement of Joseph C. Carter, President, International Association of Chiefs of Police, before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, March 21, 2007, www.theiacp.org/documents/pdfs/WhatsNew/CarterTestimony03212007.pdf.