By Meredith Ward, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
he House Committee on the Judiciary recently approved H.R. 6062, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) Program Reauthorization Act of 2012.
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. Byrne-JAG is a highly successful program that enjoys broad support within the law enforcement community because of its proven record in helping law enforcement agencies to fight crime effectively.
Under current law, Byrne-JAG is authorized through September 30, 2012. It is one of the IACP’s highest priories to ensure that the program is reauthorized before it is allowed to expire. Therefore, we urge quick approval of H.R. 6062, which will extend the program’s authorization through fiscal year (FY) 2017.
In FY 2010, Byrne-JAG was allocated $511 million; $494 million in FY 2011; and, in FY 2012, $470 million—a cut of 9 percent over three fiscal years. Unfortunately, these cuts only continue a 10-year history of decline. In FY 2003, the same programs funded by Byrne-JAG received $1.05 billion, marking a 56 percent reduction to date. Reauthorizing Byrne-JAG at $800 million will significantly increase the chances of it being appropriated at a higher amount.
The IACP firmly believes that just as state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers have protected their communities from crime, it is a well-trained, well-equipped officer, armed with the best information who will be our first line of defense against violent crime and terrorism. This is why it is imperative that we ensure that law enforcement agencies have the resources officers need to meet their core responsibilities of protecting our communities from crime while at the same time continuing their vital role in protecting the United States from attack.
H.R. 6062 enjoys broad, bipartisan congressional support. It will now head for a vote in the full U.S. House of Representatives and then to the U.S. Senate. The IACP will keep members informed on latest developments.
The IACP Supports the Child Protection Act
IACP President, Chief Walter A. McNeil, recently expressed the IACP’s strong support for H.R. 6063, the Child Protection Act of 2012. The legislation seeks to significantly enhance the ability of state, local, and federal law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who engage in child pornography and exploitation crimes.
The bill increases the penalty range from 10 years to 20 years for possessing child pornography. With an increase in the availability of innocent images on the Internet, combating child pornography has become an increasingly more difficult task for state, local, and tribal law enforcement. Increasing the penalty rightfully elevates this crime to the very serious level it deserves.
The bill also will allow prosecutions for harassing or intimidating a child witness without requiring serious threats or harm. This has become a big problem as abusers use subtle coercion that can have major negative effects on the child. The proposed legislation will ensure that harassment and intimidation are punishable by law.
Finally, the legislation also gives the U.S. Department of Justice administrative subpoena powers in assisting states to find sex offenders. Sex offenders venturing outside their registered jurisdictions has become a serious problem. H.R. 6063 has several bipartisan cosponsors and is currently being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary.
The IACP Supports Anti-Animal Fighting Legislation
The IACP recently announced support for H.R. 2492, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2011. The legislation will make it a federal crime to attend a dogfight or a cockfight and a felony to bring a child to an animal fight.
Many states have penalties for animal fighting spectators, who finance the criminal activity with their admission fees and gambling wagers and provide cover for animal fighters who blend into the crowds during law enforcement raids. Prohibiting this activity at the federal level, combined with the state laws, will ensure that state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies have the tools they need to crack down on all participants involved in animal fighting.
The U.S. Senate companion bill to H.R. 2492 passed earlier this summer by an overwhelming majority, and the legislation is currently being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The IACP Legislative Briefing
The IACP will hold the 119th Annual IACP Conference in San Diego, California, September 29–October 3. The membership-wide legislative briefing will be held in conjunction with the IACP Business Meeting on Wednesday, October 3, at 9:30 a.m. During this briefing, members will be updated on pertinent legislation and resolutions and will have the opportunity to ask questions.
For more information, please contact Meredith Ward, manager, legislative and media affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org. To register for IACP 2012, please visit http://www.theiacpconference.org. ♦
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, "IACP-Supported Legislation Gains Committee Approval," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 79 (August 2012): 8.