- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

The International Association of Chiefs of Police has called on its 19,000 members to urge Congress to restore funding for three law enforcement programs targeted for budget cuts under a bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In a memo to its members, the association’s leadership said proposed cuts for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Program and the Edward Byrne Memorial Grant program would have a “significant and negative impact” on the ability of state and local law enforcement agencies to maintain many anticrime programs.

Under legislation proposed by the committee, the funding levels for the three programs would be reduced by more than $550 million from their current levels. For several years, cities have used the COPS program to fund the hiring of new officers.

“As the Senate continues its work on the FY 2004 budget for the Department of Justice, it is vitally important for IACP members to contact their senators and urge them to restore funding to vital state and local law enforcement assistance programs,” the police chiefs group said in the memo, described as a “legislative alert.”

The Senate panel recommended the cuts earlier this month, while the House approved a fiscal 2004 funding bill for the Justice Department in July that called for the elimination of all hiring funding for the COPS program. A final budget has not been approved.

The COPS program, a key Clinton administration priority, once got $1.63 billion a year, although it now faces the possibility of being reduced to as little as $253 million annually under the House legislation.

Under the pending Senate bill, the program would get $656 million — down from the current funding of $977.6 million. The $656 million would fund programs including $200 million for hiring school resource officers and $140 million for interoperable communications.

The Senate bill also would cut the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Program from $400 million in fiscal 2003 to $150 million in fiscal 2004. Under the Senate plan, the Edward Byrne Memorial Grant program would be combined with the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Program into a single grant, called the Justice Assistance Grant.

The Bush administration has sought to reduce funding for traditional law-enforcement programs like COPS and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Program — which go directly to cities and counties — in favor of increased funding for homeland security, which is allocated through the states.

The IACP, founded in 1893, is the world’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization of law enforcement executives. The association’s president is Joseph Samuels, chief at the Richmond, Calif., Police Department since 1999. He was sworn in as association president in 2002.

The association’s third vice president is Mary Ann Viverette, chief of police in Gaithersburg.

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