By Meredith Ward, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
n late 2011, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3630, the Payroll Tax Deduction Extension legislation. This legislation included the Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum (JOBS) Act of 2011, which allocates the D-Block spectrum to public safety and funds the build-out of the Public Safety Broadband Network. Unfortunately, the Senate did not include this language in its payroll tax deal, so the language ultimately was not in the final two-month extension bill that was signed by President Obama.The IACP worked toward not only including the allocation of the D-Block but also amending serious concerning provisions contained in the JOBS Act. Specifically, the JOBS Act mandates giveback of mission-critical spectrum that public safety currently uses for voice communications; does not provide enough funding for the build-out of a nationwide, interoperable, public safety wireless broadband network; and creates an unworkable administrator governance model.
The IACP has long been a supporter of S. 911, the SPECTRUM Act, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). The SPECTRUM Act would
- allocate the D-Block to public safety;
- allow for the build-out of an effective, nationwide, interoperable, public safety wireless broadband network;
- set up a workable governance structure for the network; and
- allocate adequate funding for the network.
Any D-Block legislation considered must accomplish these four items.
The IACP has been working with the Public Safety Alliance and several other law enforcement and first responder organizations to coordinate this effort. Thank you to all members who responded to the legislative alerts on this topic in December 2011. The IACP will continue to work in 2012 to ensure the allocation of the D-Block in the format that is best suited for the law enforcement community.
Congress Passes Fiscal Year 2012 Funding
In late December 2011, appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2012—for the funds not covered in the November-passed minibus—to fund the government through September 30, 2012, were passed and included grants administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to aid state, local, and tribal law enforcement. DHS grants fared slightly better than Department of Justice grants but were still deeply cut. The bill allocates $977 million, after carve outs, for all state and local programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Actual funding amounts are to be determined by the
The allocation, which is a cut of nearly $2 billion from FY 2011, covers major law enforcement assistance programs such as the Urban Area Security Initiative, the State Homeland Security Grants, and the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program, along with several other state, local, and tribal assistance grants. Other grants covered under this amount include ones for the Citizen Corps, Public Transportation and Railroad Security Assistance, Over-the-Road Bus Security, Port Security, Driver’s License Security, Interoperable Emergency Communications, Emergency Operations Centers, Buffer Zone Protection Program, and High-Risk Non-Profit Organization Security.
Programs that assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies are valuable, critical resources and significantly strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to combat crime and violence and prevent terrorism in U.S. communities. Eliminating or reducing these programs would be devastating to the nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States. 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 communities. The IACP also will be working with the DHS to provide education when it considers specific allocation of the $977 million in funding.
The 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. This is why it is important that members from the state, local, and tribal law enforcement communities educate elected officials on issues important to the law enforcement community.
If you are interested in joining your professional colleagues for the IACP Day on the Hill, please contact Meredith Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.theiacp.org/dayonthehill. ■
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, "D-Block Agreement Not Reached" Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 79 (February 2012): 8.