By Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, IACP
ACP president Russell B. Laine recently sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary expressing support for the nomination of Chief Gil Kerlikowske to be the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
The ONDCP director has a key voice in the national narcotics policy debate and plays a central role in determining how aggressively narcotics issues are addressed. The selection of the ONDCP director is of critical importance to the IACP and the law enforcement community because it is vitally important that the views of the law enforcement community are embraced by those who shape national policy for reducing the incidence of drug abuse and combating the crime and violence associated with the trafficking of illegal narcotics.
In the letter, President Laine stated, “The IACP believes that Chief Kerlikowske’s years of service have clearly demonstrated he has the qualifications and experience necessary to be an effective leader of the ONDCP. It is the IACP’s belief that Chief Kerlikowske’s vast experience has equipped him with a strong understanding and commitment to the central and critical role that enforcement must play in a balanced approach to addressing the scourge of drugs in our society.”1
President Laine also stated that this is a crucial time for the United States and its approach to reducing the use of illegal narcotics and combating the crime and violence associated with narcotics trafficking. “The IACP is profoundly concerned with attempts to legalize or decriminalize illegal narcotics. Over the past several years, we have witnessed the spread of ill-conceived state and municipal laws and ordinances that have severely weakened or eliminated restrictions on drug use. These laws are often approved with little or no consideration given to public safety issues that will arise or the medical or psychological impact that drug use can have, especially on the young.”
Finally, the IACP president called for a strong focus on the critical need for the development of a clear and consistent national drug policy, one that “unambiguously declares opposition to drug legalization and clearly states that narcotics and other dangerous drugs have no place in our communities, in our schools, or on our nation’s highways.”
Chief Kerlikowske is expected to be confirmed by the Senate shortly.
IACP Supports COPS Legislation
President Laine recently expressed the IACP’s support of H.R. 1139, the COPS Improvements Act of 2009.
This legislation seeks to fund critical programs for combating methamphetamine production and trafficking; supporting tribal law enforcement agencies; combating gun trafficking and reducing gang violence; hiring school resource officers and establishing school-based partnerships between local law enforcement agencies and local school systems to combat crime, gangs, and drug activities; paying for officers hired to perform intelligence, antiterrorism, or homeland security duties; and recruiting inactive military personnel to pursue a second career in the law enforcement profession.
The IACP letter of support stated, “Maintaining the flexibility of this program will ensure that it remains a valuable and critical resource to the state, local, and tribal law enforcement community. By funding this program, Congress will significantly strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to combat crime and violence in our communities.”
H.R. 1139 has passed the House Committee on the Judiciary and is expected to be considered by the full House of Representatives in the coming weeks.
Congress, Administration Begin Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations Work
In late February, the administration released a summary of its budget proposal. The summary indicates that the full budget proposal will include funding for the hiring of 50,000 additional police officers. The summary does not provide a breakdown of the time period over which these hires will take place, but a detailed budget proposal is expected later this spring.
Additionally, Congress recently began work on the fiscal year 2010 federal budget process. Both the House and the Senate have passed their budget resolutions, nonbinding documents that serve as a statement of Congress’s priorities in the budget process. As the next step in the process, the various subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have begun their efforts to craft the annual appropriations bills that fund the federal government.
IACP staff will keep members informed of developments in the federal budget process. ■
1The letter can be viewed at http://www.theiacp.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=W%2FigGtnwIXA%3D&tabid=391 (accessed April 15, 2009).