By Gene Voegtlin, Director, SACOP, IACP
n mid-March, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a continuing resolution that would fund a number of federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, for the remainder of FY 2013. The legislation is expected to be passed (with slight modifications) by both the full Senate and the House of Representatives in the next few weeks.
Under the agreement approved by the appropriators, the bill provides $27.3 billion for the Department of Justice. This total includes the following.
State and Local Law Enforcement Activities – The bill provides $2.2 billion for grants to aid local and state law enforcement and victims of crime. Specifically, the bill provides the following:
- $1.1 billion for State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance, which includes Byrne-JAG formula grants ($392 million), State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), bulletproof vests, National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) improvement, victims of trafficking, and DNA analysis grants;
- $218 million for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants, including $186 million to hire or retain roughly 1,490 police officers;
- $124 million for research and evaluation initiatives on prevention and intervention practices, which include regional information sharing activities;
- $230 million to prevent, investigate, and prosecute crimes against children;
- $274 million for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention; and
- $409 million for domestic violence and sexual assault grants.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – The bill provides $8 billion for FBI salaries and expenses for national security and counterterrorism investigations, combating cyber threats, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities, and violent crime reduction programs.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – The bill provides total resources of $2.36 billion for the DEA to target and dismantle criminal narcotics activities.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) – The bill provides $1.13 billion for the ATF to reduce violent crime and enforce Federal firearms and explosives laws.
U.S. Marshals Service – The bill provides $1.17 billion for U.S. Marshals Service salaries and expenses to apprehend dangerous fugitives, protect the federal courts and the judiciary, and transport prisoners for court proceedings.
Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Four Bills Targeting Gun Violence
In mid-March, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee approved four pieces of legislation that are intended to address gun violence and the illegal use of firearms. These bills are
- Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013 This bill will strengthen the U.S. background check system for gun purchases by eliminating loopholes, such as the current policy that allows individuals to purchase weapons at gun shows without a background check. It would also assist states and federal agencies to provide accurate and up-to-date records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The Committee approved this legislation by a vote of 10 to 8.
- Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 This bill will reinstate a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines (those with more than 10 rounds). The Committee approved this legislation by a vote of 10 to 8.
- Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 This bill will strengthen penalties for so-called “straw purchases” – when one person buys a firearm for someone else who cannot legally buy one for himself. The Committee approved this bill by a vote of 11 to 7.
- School and Campus Safety Enhancements Act of 2013 This bill will expand grant programs to help improve school and campus safety. This bill was approved by a vote of 14 to 4.
All of these bills are now awaiting action by the full U.S. Senate.
IACP Files Amicus Brief in Maryland v. King
In late February, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Case of Maryland v. King. At issue is whether the Fourth Amendment bars Maryland from gathering DNA samples from individuals arrested for, but not convicted of, certain felonies. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in this case could have a profound impact on many federal and state DNA collection laws.
In the case under consideration, Alonzo King was linked to an unsolved 2003 rape conviction by a DNA sample he gave when arrested in 2009 on assault charges. He was convicted of the sex crime, but the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed his conviction on the basis that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when the DNA sample was collected. The State of Maryland appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The IACP, joined by a number of other law enforcement organizations, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the State of Maryland’s appeal, arguing that the collection of DNA was constitutional and did not constitute a violation of Mr. King’s Fourth Amendment protections.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to release its decision this spring.♦
Please cite as:
Gene Voegtlin, "Senate Appropriators Approve Continuing Resolution," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 80 (April 2013): 8.