By Meredith Ward, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
he Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science recently approved its fiscal year (FY) 2012 spending levels for grants administered by the Department of Justice, which includes many grant programs critical to the law enforcement community. The committee approved $395 million for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG). 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 committee approved $232 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which includes $200 million for hiring grants. The COPS program seeks to fund critical programs for combating methamphetamine production and trafficking; for supporting 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 recruiting inactive military personnel to pursue the law enforcement profession.
Both of these levels are in stark contrast to what the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations passed for the COPS program and Byrne-JAG. The House proposal would eliminate funding for the COPS program and the COPS office. Additionally, it would slash funding for Byrne-JAG 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 proposal does include $15 million to support methamphetamine lab cleanup.
Grants administered by the Department of Homeland Security to aid state, local, and tribal law enforcement fared slightly better. The Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Homeland Security voted to allocate $320 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP); $300 million for the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI); and $207.5 million for the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP).
The full House of Representatives has already passed the Homeland Security appropriations bill for FY 2012, which slashed funding for state, local, and tribal homeland security assistance programs by more than $2 billion from current levels. In FY 2011, these programs received $3.1 billion in funding; the House-approved bill includes $1 billion for FY 2012. The IACP strongly opposed these proposals.
Specifically, $750 million is proposed to cover the UASI, the SHSGP, and the LETPP, along with several other state, local, and tribal assistance grants, with actual funding amounts to be determined by the secretary of homeland security.
These programs are valuable and critical resources to the state, tribal, and local law enforcement community. All significantly strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to combat crime and violence and to prevent terrorism in our communities. Eliminating or reducing these programs would be devastating to the nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies in this country.
Action by the committees represents the next step in the FY 2012 appropriations process. Both the full House of Representatives and Senate must vote on all of the bills, and differences must be worked out before any proposal can be sent to the president for approval.
The IACP will continue to work with members of Congress to educate them on the importance of these critical resources to the state, local, and tribal law enforcement community.
IACP Supports Narrowbanding Legislation
The IACP recently expressed support for H.R. 2976, the Help Emergency Responders Operate Emergency Systems (HEROES) Act of 2011. H.R. 2976, introduced by Representative Steve Rothman (D-NJ), addresses the unfunded federal mandate, known as narrowband, which affects state, local, and tribal law enforcement and other first responders in the United States.
H.R. 2976 will establish a $400 million DHS-administered Narrowbanding Compliance Assistance Program to aid state, local, and tribal law enforcement and first responders in meeting the narrowband mandate issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The 2004 FCC Order mandates that state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and other first responders upgrade their spectrum licenses and equipment by January 2013. Although previous legislation has been passed that would help state, local, and tribal law enforcement and other first responders accomplish this mandate, recent budget cuts for FY 2012 have eliminated or significantly reduced most of that assistance. H.R. 2976 would provide the federal funds necessary to help state, local, and tribal law enforcement and other first responders pay for the narrowband migration and purchase new equipment.
The IACP urges Congress to act to ensure that the United States’ nearly 18,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies—which are already facing severely reduced budgets and are struggling to protect the communities they serve—are not further burdened by an unfunded mandate. ■
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, "Senate Committees Pass FY 2012 Spending Bills," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 78 (November 2011): 10.