By Meredith Ward, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
n late April, both the U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees made progress on fiscal year (FY) 2013 spending bills that govern funding levels for assistance grants for state, local, and tribal law enforcement. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies approved the FY 2013 spending bill, including U.S. Department of Justice grants for state, local, and tribal law enforcement. The Edward R. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) would receive $392 million and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office would receive $248 million, including $215 million for hiring.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, the Committee on Appropriations also approved its FY 2013 spending bill, which was previously approved by the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science. This bill included $370 million for Byrne-JAG and $72.5 million for the COPS office, including $40 million for hiring.
Consider these figures in comparison to those from previous years:
- Byrne-JAG was allocated $511 million in FY 2010; $494 million in FY 2011; and, in FY 2012, $470 million—a cut of 9 percent over three fiscal years.
- The COPS office received $792 million in FY 2010; $495 million in FY 2011; and, in FY 2012, $198.5 million—a 75 percent decrease over the past three fiscal years. Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to eliminate this program in 2011.
The actions by both the U.S. House and Senate subcommittees represent an early step in the appropriations processes. The full appropriations committees in each chamber must approve the bills, followed by each full chamber separately, and then the two will come together to work out their differences and settle on a final bill that will be sent to the president.
The IACP has grown increasingly concerned about the severe cuts to state, local, and tribal law enforcement assistance grants in the past few fiscal years. These continued cuts have the potential to cripple the capabilities of the nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide and force many departments to take officers off the streets, likely leading to more crime and violence in our hometowns and ultimately less security for our homeland.
In addition to the impact these cuts may have on crime levels and crime prevention in general, these reductions will have a profound and direct impact on our ability to prevent terrorist attacks in our communities and upon our homeland.
Unfortunately, the severe cuts to these programs come at a time when state, local, and tribal agencies already are dealing with dramatic cuts in state, county, municipal, and tribal budgets. In addition, many agencies already have been forced to make drastic reductions in services such as responding to only high-level or life-threatening calls for service, forgoing equipment replacement and upgrades, and eliminating special programs and units. Even more troubling is the fact that most chiefs reported that their levels of service would continue to decline as the impact from budget cuts intensifies.
If immediate action is not taken to restore these critical funds, the damage that already has been done will continue. The IACP will continue to work with Congress to restore necessary resources that will allow state, local, and tribal law enforcement to mount effective anticrime and antiterrorism programs to protect the communities they serve.
Senate Passes IACP-Supported VAWA Legislation
In late April, the United States Senate passed S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2011. The IACP has been a proud supporter of VAWA since it was first passed in 1994, passing resolutions and retaining a strong commitment to preventing violence against women. IACP President Walter McNeil recently sent a letter to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, expressing the IACP’s support
for S. 1925.
Violence against women continues to be a significant problem as evidenced by the fact that three women are killed every day in the United States by an intimate partner, one in six women have experienced sexual assault, and more than 70 percent of stalking victims are women. In his letter, President McNeil wrote, “We know that reporting, and, thus, prosecution and conviction rates are among the lowest among other violent crimes. Law enforcement must have tools, support, and training available to help prevent these horrific crimes. With additional tools, we can continue to build stronger cases that will lead to a higher prosecution and conviction rate and continue to shed light on these oftentimes hidden crimes.”
In addition, the IACP is also supportive of provisions in S. 1925 that contain increased penalties for violence against women in tribal communities. The IACP passed a resolution in 2011 stating support for these provisions. Native American women are victims of violent crimes at a rate disproportionately higher than any other ethnic group in the United States, with studies revealing that one-third of Native American women will be raped during their lifetimes and nearly three out of five will be assaulted by their spouses or intimate partners. The new provisions will significantly assist tribal law enforcement in combating violence against Native American women residing within their respective tribal communities, while at the same time strengthening provisions within the existing VAWA statute.
The legislation will now be considered in the U.S. House of Representatives. ♦
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, "Law Enforcement Spending Cuts Continue into FY 2013," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 79 (June 2012): 8.