By Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, IACP
n November 9, 2009, Laurie Robinson was sworn in as the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). The IACP strongly supported Ms. Robinson’s nomination.
During her confirmation process, in a letter to Senate leadership, IACP (then) President Russell Laine wrote, “Ms. Robinson’s broad base of experience provides her with a unique perspective on criminal justice issues.”
The IACP believes that Ms. Robinson’s years of service have clearly demonstrated she has the qualifications and experience necessary to be an effective leader of the OJP. The OJP office is of critical importance to state, local, and tribal law enforcement.
During her service in this same position from 1993 to 2000, OJP programs grew substantially—from $800 million in 1993 to over $4 billion in 2000. This increase led to strong initiatives on community-based crime control, violence against women, and law enforcement technology.
As a result, the IACP believes that, as Assistant Attorney General, Ms. Robinson’s background will allow her to foster and enhance the crucial partnership among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
IACP-Supported Legislation Signed into Law
On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The legislation—formerly the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA)—is strongly supported by the IACP.
The expanded law will allow the federal government to provide technical support to state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies that are investigating hate crimes.
Most hate crimes are, and should continue to be, investigated and prosecuted by state, tribal, and local authorities. Unfortunately, there are instances, where as a result of either insufficient resources or a lack of jurisdiction, state, tribal, and local authorities are unable to investigate these crimes properly. In response, the law provides the DOJ with jurisdiction in crimes of violence that were motivated because of an individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, disability, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
However, the law properly bars the exercise of federal jurisdiction until the DOJ certifies that state authorities have requested that the federal government assume jurisdiction or that they have consulted with state, tribal, and local law enforcement and have determined that local authorities are either unwilling or unable to act.
IACP-Supported Legislation Gains Support in House and Senate
The Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009 (ORC) is gaining support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The legislation, which is strongly supported by the IACP, has many cosponsors and was the main topic of focus in a House Judiciary hearing in November.
The bill intends to combat, deter, and punish individuals and enterprises engaged nationally and internationally in organized crime involving theft and interstate fencing of stolen retail merchandise. The ORC legislation will provide law enforcement with more tools to fight organized retail crime and increase law enforcement’s authority to pursue criminals engaging in organized retail crime. The legislation will make it easier for law enforcement to identify stolen property and Internet auction sites that profit from the sale of stolen property.
It is estimated that unregulated black market sales of such fraudulently obtained and stolen merchandise result in an estimated $1.6 billion loss in tax revenues to state and local governments. Oftentimes the illegal proceeds from these sales are used to fund drug trafficking, gang activity, and terrorism. While these sales continue to grow exponentially, state, local, and tribal law enforcement need the tools to combat these crimes.
The Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009 is currently being considered in the Judiciary Committees of both the House and Senate.
Day on the Hill
The IACP’s biennial Day on the Hill has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 9, 2010, in conjunction with the midyear meetings of both the Division of State and Provincial Police and the Division of State Associations of Chiefs of Police. On this day, IACP members will have an opportunity to meet with their elected officials on issues important to the law enforcement community.
If you are interested in joining us for the Day on the Hill, please contact Meredith Mays for more information via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. ■