By Meredith Ward, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
n mid-November, President Obama signed the appropriations minibus, which contains fiscal year (FY) 2012 agriculture, commerce, justice, transportation, and housing appropriations bills. Within the minibus was funding for the Department of Justice, which administers several of the assistance grants for state, local, and tribal law enforcement.
Specifically, the bill provides $198.2 million, including $141 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program, after carve-outs. 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.
The minibus also includes $352 million for the Edward R. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG), after carve-outs. 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 bill also includes $12.5 million to reinstate funding for cleanup of methamphetamine (meth) labs—a fund that was zeroed out last year. This is a program that the IACP fought hard to reinstate, after hearing outcries from our membership. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), state, local, and tribal agencies seized 3,636 meth labs in 2008; 5,513 in 2009; and 6,294 in 2010. And, sadly, these numbers do not represent a complete picture of the meth lab problem; many state and local law enforcement agencies simply do not have the staff resources to report meth lab seizures and there are many other labs that are unknown to law enforcement.
Up until FY 2010, Congress appropriated funding for state, local, and tribal clandestine lab cleanups under the COPS program. In FY 2010, the COPS office was authorized to transfer $10 million to the DEA to continue to administer the program; however, this level of funding was not adequate to address the increasing demands on the program. While additional and continued funding is necessary, the IACP is pleased that Congress appropriated $12.5 million to assist law enforcement in this critical effort.
Finally, changes in communications technologies are presenting new challenges to law enforcement’s ability to access, intercept, collect, and process wire or electronic communications to which they are lawfully authorized. The recommendation includes program increases totaling $12,466,000 to address such challenges, including $10,463,000 and 13 positions to establish and operate a Domestic Communications Assistance Center (DCAC), which will serve as a hub for the management of knowledge and technical expertise regarding lawful electronic surveillance and as a method to facilitate the sharing of solutions among federal, state, and local law enforcement. The IACP strongly supports the creation of the DCAC.
The IACP will continue to work with members of Congress on legislative funding proposals to ensure that law enforcement has the resources needed to fulfill their mission.
IACP Day on the Hill
The IACP Day on the Hill has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 27, 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. A briefing will be held in the afternoon on the day before to update attendees on legislative activities and issues in Congress.
The year 2012 will be a busy one for Congress as the November elections approach. That is why it is important that members from the state, the local, and the tribal law enforcement community educate elected officials on issues important to this community.
If you are interested in joining us for the Day on the Hill, please contact Meredith Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org for information. ■
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, "Congress Passes Minibus Appropriations Bill," Highway Safety Initiatives, The Police Chief 79 (January 2012): 8.