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Back to Archives | Back to December 2004 Contents 

Legislative Alert

Congress Passes Omnibus Appropriations Bill; State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Funds Cut by 24 Percent

By Jennifer Boyter, Legislative Analyst



n November 20, the House and Senate adopted the conference report on the massive omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 4818) that completes work on spending for fiscal year 2005. The bill now goes to President Bush for his signature.
The omnibus combines nine unfinished appropriations bills that stalled this session, forcing the government to operate under a series of continuing resolutions since the fiscal year ended on September 30. This includes the Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill, which provides the majority of state and local law enforcement funding.

2005 Budget Consolidates Byrne and
LLEBG; Slashes COPS Hiring Funds
The bill provides the Justice Department with $20.6 billion, a 4 percent increase from 2004, and 3 percent more than President Bush requested. However, funding for the three primary law enforcement programs—the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG), the Edward Byrne Memorial Grant Program, and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program was significantly cut, decreasing from $1.64 billion in fiscal year 2004 to $1.24 billion, a 24.4 percent drop.
Fiscal year 2005 funding continues a steady decline in funding levels for these three programs over the last four years. As noted in the graph below, the funding levels for these programs have declined by almost $1.24 billion since fiscal year 2002. This represents a cut of 50 percent for these crucial programs.

Congress has agreed to the president’s proposal to consolidate the Byrne grants and the Local Law Enforcement Block grants into a single program known as the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG). Under the bill, this combined grant program will receive $634 million. Of this amount, $85 million (13 percent) is earmarked for the Boys and Girls Club of America. In addition, $10 million is set aside for law enforcement technology projects at the National Institute of Justice, and $2.5 million is reserved for the USA Freedom Corps.

Although this is an increase of $126 million over the president’s request, it represents a decrease of $250 million (28 percent) from fiscal year 2004 funding. Even more, in fiscal year 2003, the two programs received $1.377 billion. In just two years, funding for these two crucial programs (Byrne and LLBEG) has been cut by $743 million, a decrease of nearly 54 percent.

The budget for the Community Oriented Policing Services program will also be significantly reduced, but not as drastically as proposed by President Bush. The COPS program will receive $606 million, down $150 million (19.8 percent) from fiscal year 2004. However, the administration proposed just $97 million for the program, and the House had allocated just $113 million. Since fiscal year 2003, when the COPS program received $1.15 billion, the program has lost 47 percent of its funding.

However, only $10 million is available for hiring, and half of this amount is reserved for school resource officers. In fiscal year 2004, $115 million was available for hiring programs representing a cut of 91 percent. Significantly, the Police Corps, which has proven to be an inefficient and ineffective use of the limited funds that are available to combat crime and train young people to become career law enforcement professionals, received $15 million.
The COPS funding also includes $25 million for the matching grant program for body armor vests (same as in fiscal year 2004); $20 million for tribal law enforcement (down from $25 million); $52.5 million for policing initiatives to combat methamphetamine (down slightly from fiscal year 2004); $138 million for law enforcement technology (down from $158 million); $25 million in grants to upgrade criminal records (down from $40 million); and $100 million for the COPS Interoperable Communications Technology program (up from $85 million).

It also includes $125 million to help clear the backlog of unanalyzed DNA samples, invest in the latest crime lab technology, and train criminal justice professional to make better use of DNA evidence.

Funding for grants under the Violence Against Women programs remains fairly constant at $387 million, roughly the same as last year.

 

From The Police Chief, vol. 71, no. 12, December 2004. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.








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