Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program
U.S. president Barack Obama and U.S. attorney general Eric Holder have announced $2 billion in Recovery Act 2009 funding allocations for state and local law enforcement assistance available through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) program.
“This funding is key to helping our states and local governments fight crime and keep our streets safe,” said Attorney General Holder. “The Department of Justice is moving ahead of schedule to allocate these resources so we can retain police officers, enhance law enforcement capabilities, and ensure that we have the tools and equipment necessary to build safer communities.”
The Byrne-JAG program allows states and local governments to support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime and improve the criminal justice system, including programs for the following areas:
- Law enforcement agencies
- Prosecution and courts
- Prevention and education
- Corrections and community corrections
- Drug treatment and enforcement
- Planning, evaluation, and technology improvement
- Crime victims and witnesses (other than compensation)
“These funds are a vital component in our effort to not just revive our economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity and security,” President Obama said. “By keeping police officers on the streets whose jobs were threatened by budget cuts and ensuring states and municipalities have the tools and equipment necessary to fight crime, this money will simultaneously help jumpstart the American economy and protect our citizens.”
Police departments expect to use Byrne-JAG funds for a variety of efforts such as hiring law enforcement officers; supporting drug and gang task forces; funding crime prevention and domestic violence programs; and supporting justice information sharing initiatives. The breakdown of Byrne-JAG allocations for states, territories, and units of local government can be viewed at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/recoveryJAG/recoveryallocations.html.
The procedure for allocating Byrne-JAG grants is based on a formula of population and violent crime statistics, in combination with a minimum allocation to ensure that each state and each territory receives an appropriate share of funding. Sixty percent of the allocation is awarded directly to a state, and 40 percent is set aside for units of local government. Funding will be used by the states and more than 5,000 local communities to enhance their ability to protect communities and combat crime.
The Recovery Act includes more than $4 billion overall to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and for other criminal justice activities that help to prevent crime and improve the U.S. criminal justice system while supporting the creation of jobs and providing much-needed resources for states and local communities.
For more information about the Recovery Act, readers can visit www.recovery.gov.
Homeland Security Challenges as Viewed by Governors
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) has released the results of its fifth annual survey of governors’ homeland security advisors. The 2008 survey provides an overview of the homeland security landscape at the state level, both in terms of how states have structured themselves for their homeland security missions and in the issues and challenges that dominate their agendas, and offers an assessment of the relationships between states and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Among the key findings from the survey:
- More than 75 percent of respondents expressed satisfaction with their communication with DHS, a significant increase compared to the 42 percent satisfaction rate reported in 2007.
- According to survey respondents, developing interoperable communications is the issue for which states most need federal assistance in the form of funding and guidance.
- Survey respondents use their fusion centers as the primary method for sharing information with DHS.
- All respondents either have or are in the process of coordinating their homeland security plans with owners of privately held critical infrastructure.
- More than 80 percent of respondents have determined the homeland security roles and responsibilities for their National Guard personnel.
“During the past five years, states have adjusted their governance structures and priorities to meet changing threats and better align federal grant program requirements,” said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center.
The survey targeted members of the Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council (GHSAC), which comprises homeland security directors as designated by each governor in all states, territories, and the District of Columbia. The survey included questions related to organizational structures, state priorities, interstate relations, federal grant programs, and other salient issues. Forty-three homeland security directors, or approximately 80 percent of the GHSAC, responded to the survey in whole or in part.
According to the homeland security directors, five priorities emerged as key to sustaining an enhanced level of security, including coordinating the efforts of state and local agencies; developing interoperable communications for emergency responders; identifying and protecting critical infrastructure; developing a state intelligence fusion center; and strengthening citizen preparedness.
For more information on states’ efforts to enhance security, readers can visit http://www.nga.org/center/hst.
Identity Theft Special Interest Group
The U.S. Department of Justice has established an Identity Theft Special Interest Group (SIG) on LEO.gov. This SIG is open to federal, state, local, and international police and law enforcement authorities. It contains up-to-date information on identity theft trends and developments in the United States and other countries, information resources for investigators and prosecutors, materials for identity theft education and awareness, and media articles and other public documents on identity theft topics.
The Identity Theft SIG also has listserve and e-mail capabilities for secure communications between SIG members, as well as an address list for SIG members.
Readers who are interested in obtaining access to this SIG and are already LEO members can go to the home page for the Identity Theft SIG and click on the “Request Access to IDTHEFT” button.
Readers who are not already LEO members but would like access to the SIG can contact the SIG Moderators, Jonathan Rusch and Jay Lerner of the Department of Justice’s Fraud Section, at 202-514-7021.
Telecommunicator Turnover Rate
The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International has released a follow-up report to its Project RETAINS (Responsive Efforts to Assure Integral Needs in Staffing), which finds the national telecommunicator turnover rate at 19 percent, which represents an increase of 3 percent since the initial study conducted in 2005 and a number higher than the better-known turnover rates of nurses and teachers. The report also includes highly sought-after guidelines to estimate the appropriate staffing levels for dispatchers.
“Too often it takes catastrophic events to shed light on the urgent contributions public safety communications work makes to our nation’s well being,” APCO International president Chris Fischer said. “During more routine moments, public safety professionals labor well out of the public eye and, often, with limited resources and insufficient support.”
Seeking to assess the conditions under which communications centers are employed, APCO International established Project RETAINS, which resulted in a 2005 report and the Project RETAINS toolkit. This second Project RETAINS study, Staffing and Retention in Public Safety Communications Centers: A Follow-up Study, sought to extend APCO International’s knowledge of communications center staffing issues not addressed in the first study and to gauge the degree to which Project RETAINS has proven useful.
This report examined communications centers’ retention rates, employees’ organizational commitment, and employees’ psychological distress. Despite the broad differences between centers of different size, location, and type, a number of patterns emerged in this study that hold relevance for the nation’s communications centers. First, the overwhelming majority (83 percent) of centers have experienced an increase in the number of dispatched calls in the previous three years. In addition, the salary that starting employees receive and the flexibility of work schedules significantly affect rates of retention. Furthermore, the findings draw attention to the need that employees express for greater support, recognition, and appreciation, whether from their supervisors and center directors or from the public at large. Finally, communications centers that have used the Project RETAINS toolkit indicated that retention had significantly increased over the past three years.
A summary of the report is available at http://www.apcointl.com/new/commcenter911/retains_at_a_glance.php. For more information on Project RETAINS, readers can visit http://www.apcointl.com/new/commcenter911/retains.php.
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
April 26–May 2, 2009, is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year’s theme is “25 Years of Rebuilding Lives: Celebrating the Victims of Crime Act.”
The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) proudly recognizes the life-changing impact of the 1984 landmark Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) on communities. Twenty-five years ago, victims had little help. State compensation programs were poorly funded, victim services were scarce, and most victims faced their traumatic experiences alone. The passage of VOCA, however, made victim services a force of change. Through the Crime Victims Fund, a steady and growing source of federal funding, VOCA now supports thousands of programs that serve millions of victims every year.
To assist in recognizing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the OVC Resource Center presents a comprehensive repository of information online. Information on speeches and other guides is available at
For several years, the IACP has been working to improve police-based victim services. The IACP offers the following victim services projects, materials, and publications:
- Victim Services Committee
- Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims: A 21st-Century Strategy
- Critical Response newsletter
- Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Scholarships
- 1999 National Summit on Victims of Crime
- Improving Police Based Victim Services project
- Customizable resources
- Additional publications
- IACP/LogIn Excellence in Victim Services Award
For more information, readers can contact Jeff Harrington at 800-843-4227, extension 837, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. ■