By Meredith Ward, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
ooking ahead to the remainder of 2012, there are several issues that Congress could address. What follows are discussions of three such issues, although progress will depend on the outcome of the November elections.
At press time, neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate had voted on all 13 appropriations bills, and it is likely that a continuing resolution will be passed until after the election in November. As it currently stands, the House has passed its bill, which funds the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year (FY) 2013 and provides grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement. The bill allocates $1.53 billion for all state and local programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including the State Homeland Security Grant Program; the Urban Area Security Initiative; the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program; and up to 10 other grants to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement. Actual funding amounts are to be determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security, to be distributed “according to threat, vulnerability, and consequence, at the discretion of the secretary,” according to legislation.
The full Senate has not yet voted on its bill, which would provide $1.41 billion to the same programs. However, the Senate Committee on Appropriations voted to keep the same model as the House and combine the various programs.
For programs administered through the Department of Justice, at press time, on the House side, the Appropriations Committee had approved its FY 2013 spending bill, which included $370 million for the Edward R. Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) and $72.5 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, including $40 million for hiring.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies approved the FY 2013 spending bill, including $392 million for Byrne-JAG and $248 million for COPS, including $215 for hiring.
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act
In late April, the U.S. 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 prevent violence against women. The IACP strongly supports S. 1925.
In addition, the IACP is 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 women residing within their respective tribal communities, while at the same time strengthening provisions within the existing VAWA statute.
Unfortunately, the legislation has become highly political and has reached a stalemate in the House of Representatives, with its fate unknown. The IACP is currently working with members of the House and Senate to pass this critical piece of legislation.
The Criminal Justice Commission
The IACP continues to work with Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) to pass the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2011. The legislation would allow for a long overdue comprehensive examination and report on the state of law enforcement and criminal justice in the United States.
For more than 20 years, the IACP has advocated for the creation of a commission that would follow in the footsteps of the 1965 Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. The work of this commission and the 200 recommendations it produced marked the beginning of a sea change in our methods for dealing with crime and the public and built the framework for many of the highly effective law enforcement and public safety initiatives that have been in place for the last 40 years.
The United States needs a new commission to address the broad range of new and emerging challenges that confront law enforcement today, from cybercrime to nontraditional organized crime and from violent street gangs to homeland security.
The IACP has also worked with the White House to pursue an executive order establishing the commission and will continue to do so. This spring, the IACP organized a letter from 13 state and local organizations to the White House, calling for the creation of a commission via an executive order. IACP will continue to pursue the creation of a commission by all possible means.
For the latest updates on the IACP’s legislative initiatives, please visit the IACP Blog at http://www.theiacpblog.org. ♦
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, " Looking Ahead to the End of the Year," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 79 (October 2012): 8.