By Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, IACP
oth the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science (C-J-S) and Related Agencies have approved fiscal year (FY) 2008 C-J-S funding. The bills fund the operations of the Department of Justice and state, tribal, and local law enforcement assistance programs.
Specifically, the House bill includes the following funding proposals:
- $725 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, with $100 million to restart the COPS hiring program
- $600 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants program
- $3.2 billion to state and local law enforcement agencies for crime fighting and prevention initiatives
- $20,578,000 for Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Mobile Enforcement Teams (METs)
- $85 million for methamphetamine-specific COPS grants
The Senate version includes the following funding proposals:
- $660 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants Programs, of which $60 million is for the Boys and Girls Clubs and $5 million for state and local antiterrorism training
- $190 million for the Byrne discretionary fund
- $550 million for the COPS Program, including the following specific provisions:
- $80 million for methamphetamine “hot spots,” of which $20 million is allocated for DEA/state, tribal, and local removal and disposal
- $110 million for law enforcement technology
- $169 million to catch up on the DNA backlog
- $10 million for offender reentry programs
- $55 million for Adam Walsh Grants
- $185.5 million for violence-against-women programs
It is important to note that this is a preliminary step in the budget process; the measure must be approved by the full House Appropriations Committee and the full House of Representatives and Senate before it heads to conference. Throughout the budget process, the IACP will continue to work closely with members of Congress to ensure that the needs of the law enforcement community are met in FY 2008.
Tiahrt Amendment Passes Senate Committee
Just before Congress’s July 4 recess, the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved a reauthorization of the Tiahrt Amendment. This amendment, which would limit law enforcement agencies’ access to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) gun trace data for use in “bona fide criminal investigations” only, was approved within the bill containing the C-J-S FY 2008 funding. The IACP strongly opposes this amendment and fought to keep it from being reauthorized.
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) also offered a second-degree amendment that would have given law enforcement access to ATF gun trace data, but the amendment failed.
A similarly worded amendment, which would bar cities from accessing ATF gun trace data for use in lawsuits against firearms makers, was passed by the House Commerce, Justice, and Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee on June 11. The full House Committee on Appropriations is expected to take up the legislation this summer, and many members of the Committee have vowed to remove the language from the final version.
The IACP will continue to work with members of Congress to keep the Tiahrt Amendment out of appropriations or other legislation.
Senate Committee, House Approve Homeland Security Funding
The FY 2008 appropriations process continues in the House and Senate as homeland security funding was addressed recently in each chamber. The House of Representatives passed the following FY 2008 homeland security appropriations:
- $400 million for the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program
- $950 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program
- $800 million in Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grants
- $50 million in interoperable communications grants for first responders
- $50 million in grants to help states comply with REAL ID
The Senate Committee on Appropriations has approved its FY 2008 homeland security funding as well, and it includes the following:
- $525 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program
- $375 million for the Local Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program
- $820 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Program
- $50 million in REAL ID grants
The full Senate must approve these provisions, and then both chambers will go to conference to work out any differences. The IACP will keep members informed of updates as the appropriations process continues.
IACP-Supported Legislation Passes Senate Committee
IACP-supported legislation, S. 456, the Gang Abatement and Prevention Act, was passed by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on June 14. The bill, sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), would create new penalties for recruiting gang members and for gang-related crimes. It would also authorize grants for federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement efforts in combating gangs.
When the bill was introduced in January, IACP president Joseph C. Carter sent a letter of support to Senator Feinstein. In the letter, President Carter wrote, “The IACP believes that this legislation will help ensure that federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies have the tools and resources necessary to combat the growing problem of gang-related crime and violence.”
Specifically, S. 456 would identify “High Intensity Gang Activity Areas” (HIGAAs), authorize funding to combat gang violence in those areas, authorize additional funds to combat gang violence in other areas, and create panels to research and recommend best practices.■