By Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, IACP
he Senate recently approved Commerce-Justice-Science and Related Agencies (C-J-S) appropriations, which funds the Department of Justice. The approved Senate version includes the following:
- $660 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program, including $110 million to restart the COPS hiring program
- $660 million for Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne-JAG)
- $7.8 million for additional enforcement of the Adam Walsh Act
- $10 million to three Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs: $5 million for grants to encourage arrest policies, $4 million for the new Engaging Men and Youth in Prevention program, and $1 million for the National Resource Center on Workplace Responses to assist victims of domestic violence
- $23 million to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to help clear the backlog of unprocessed DNA evidence
- Clarifying that territories and Indian tribes are eligible applicants for methamphetamine grant programs
The House of Representatives passed its version of C-J-S funding in July, which includes the following:
- $725 million for the COPS program, with $100 million to restart the COPS hiring program
- $600 million for the Byrne-JAG program
- $21.3 million for southwest border methamphetamine enforcement
- $20.5 million for Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Mobile Enforcement Teams (METs)
- $85 million for methamphetamine-specific COPS grants
These numbers are much higher than those included in the administration’s proposed budget, released in February. They also represent a significant increase from the approved levels of previous years.
It is important to note that this is not a final step in the budget process; the measure musthead to the Conference Committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills. 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 fiscal year 2008.
IACP Endorses National Strategy for Information Sharing
On October 31, the IACP announced its support for the National Strategy for Information Sharing. This document, developed with substantial input from the IACP and the state, tribal, and local law enforcement community, embraces many important concepts that are critical to the success of the continuing effort to combat terrorism in the United States.
“The IACP greatly appreciates the efforts that were made to address the concerns raised by state, tribal, and local law enforcement executives. The National Strategy will strengthen our vital partnership as we all strive to protect our communities and our nation,” said IACP president Ronald Ruecker, director of public safety in Sherwood, Oregon.
A key element of the National Strategy is the recognition that state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies are vital elements in the detection, deterrence, disruption, and apprehension of terrorists before they can strike. As the National Strategy properly declares, state, tribal, and local officials are “full and trusted partners with the Federal Government” and as a result require “timely, credible, and actionable information and intelligence about individuals and groups intending to carry out attacks within the United States.”1
The IACP is also pleased that the National Strategy calls on the federal government to provide states and major urban areas with the assistance necessary not only to establish fusion centers but also to provide them with the continuing support they need to meet the long-term intelligence and information sharing needs of the law enforcement community. These fusion centers will play a vital role in ensuring that law enforcement agencies throughout the United States have the information necessary to protect ourcommunities from the dual specters of both terrorism and crime.
The IACP looks forward to working with the administration, Congress, and law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, tribal, and local levels as they strive to implement this critical strategy.
IACP Opposes Reducing Drinking Age
On October 25, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and Water Quality held a hearing on the effectiveness of federal impaired-driving programs.
In response to this hearing, President Ruecker submitted written comments to the committee. In his comments to the committee, President Ruecker stated the IACP’s strong history of supporting the enactment and aggressive enforcement of the following effective impaireddriving policies:
- Establishment of a .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) national standard
- Establishment and enforcement of sanctions for repeat impaired drivers
- Strong open-container laws
- Adoption of zero-tolerance enforcement policies
- Establishment and maintenance of a national minimum drinking age of 21 years
President Ruecker also stated, “The IACP believes that efforts to weaken any of these provisions, most notably efforts to lower the minimum drinking age to 18, are both misguidedand dangerous. Research has consistently shown that while underage drivers between the ages of 16 and 21 account for just 7 percent of all drivers in this nation, they are involved in 15 percent ofall alcohol-related fatalities. It is the IACP’s firm belief that if these underage drivers were able to purchase alcohol legally, then this already unacceptable figure would grow dramatically. Simply put, to modify or repeal the minimum drinking age would be gambling with the lives of our children. As a result, the IACP strongly urges Congress to reject any effort to repeal or weaken current laws regarding impaired driving or the minimum drinking age.”
The IACP staff will keep members abreast of any proposals that could potentially conflict with the impaired-driving policies mentioned here. ■
1White House, National Strategy for Information Sharing: Successes and Challenges in Improving Terrorism Related Information Sharing, October 2007, http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/infosharing/NSIS_book.pdf(accessed November 6, 2007), 3, 17.