By Meredith Ward, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
n mid-July, the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations voted to eliminate the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and the COPS office.
Additionally, the committee voted to slash funding for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) Program by nearly 17 percent to $357 million. This proposed cut comes on top of a nearly 20 percent cut to the program in the current budget.
The COPS program seeks to fund critical programs for combating methamphetamine production and trafficking; for tribal law enforcement; for fighting gun trafficking and reducing gang violence; for 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; for paying for officers hired to perform intelligence, antiterrorism, or homeland security duties; and for the recruitment of inactive military personnel to pursue the law enforcement profession.
Byrne-JAG provides funds to assist states and units of local government in controlling and preventing drug abuse, crime, and violence and in improving the criminal justice system. The value of this program can be seen by examining the success of one of the most popular uses of Byrne-JAG funds: multijurisdictional drug task forces. These multijurisdictional task forces help reduce the impact of drug and firearm traffickers, gangs, pharmaceutical diversion, and organized crime on U.S. communities.
These programs—COPS and Byrne-JAG—are valuable and critical resources to the state, local, and tribal law enforcement communities. Both significantly strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to combat crime and violence in our communities. Eliminating or reducing either of these programs will be devastating to the nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States.
Therefore, it is imperative that all IACP members contact their members of Congress and urge them not to cut or eliminate these critical resources to the state, local, and tribal law enforcement community.
IACP members can visit the IACP Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily send a message to their members of Congress. Included in the Legislative Action Center is a sample letter and contact information for each member of Congress. Please visit the Legislative Action section of the IACP website at www.capwiz.com/theiacp/issues/alert/?alertid=51130136&type=CO.
House Introduces D-Block Legislation
Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) and Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) recently introduced D-Block legislation in the House of Representatives, H.R. 2482, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act. The legislation, a companion bill to Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s (R-TX) Senate legislation, is strongly supported by the IACP. The introduction of H.R. 2482 follows the passage of the Senate companion bill in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Since 2009, the IACP has been working toward having the 700 megahertz (MHz) D-Block reallocated to public safety for an effective, nationwide, public safety wireless broadband network. S. 911, sponsored by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and cosponsored by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), would achieve this goal.
H.R. 2482/S. 911 would provide law enforcement and other public safety agencies with an additional 10 MHz of spectrum that is necessary to support a nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network that will help them fulfill their mission of protecting lives in communities throughout the United States.
Law enforcement and public safety must have a minimum of 20 MHz of broadband spectrum to meet current and future needs and must have access to new technologies to perform increasingly complex duties. These technologies must have adequate and dedicated spectrum that is managed and controlled by public safety to ensure that they will be more secure and reliable than commercial broadband systems. The D-Block allocation to public safety and federal funding are essential if technology is to accommodate the critical needs of the U.S. law enforcement and public safety community.
All of the major national public safety organizations support this legislation, including the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Police Executive Research Forum, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, the National Association of State EMS Officials, the National Criminal Justice Association, the National Emergency Management Association, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Troopers’ Coalition, and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
Additionally, many state, local, and tribal government organizations support it, including the National Governors Association, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the United States Conference of Mayors, the Council of State Governments, the International City/County Management Association, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The IACP will be working toward passage of this bill in the full Senate and the companion bill in the House of Representatives. The IACP requests that all IACP members contact their senators and state representatives and ask them to support S. 911 and H.R. 2482, respectively. Thanks to the hard work of the IACP membership, several letters have been sent and several members have indicated they will send letters.
For more information on the D-Block legislation and to receive assistance in sending a letter to members of Congress, contact Meredith Ward at WardM@theiacp.org. ■
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, "House Appropriations Votes to Eliminate COPS Program," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 78 (August 2011): 8.