Saturday, November 19, 2011

Federal Budget: Weak on Law Enforcement

'Certainly, there will be police officer jobs that will be lost' 

This week the Congress passed a bill that provided a detailed budget for the federal government. Lawmakers approved a $130.4 billion measure to fund five Cabinet departments, a budget bill that will keep the government in operation until mid-December.

Apparently austerity means less crime fighting resources.  The picture is not rosy for local law enforcement according to the Washington Post.  At the Justice Department, for instance, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program would lose $296 million.

“Certainly, there will be police officer jobs that will be lost,” said Walter McNeil, a Florida police chief who is president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told the Post.

The explanation from Congress was the “challenging budget environment.” But, for Steve Ellis at the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, another explanation suggested itself: the end of earmarks.
According to the Post, previously, members of Congress had used these to steer COPS grants to their districts — in 2010, there were 568 earmarks in the program. Earmarks are no longer used, Ellis said, and Congress has decided that COPS is not a high priority.

“They’re having to fill in the picture and color between the lines they set out,” Ellis told the Post. In the same bill, Congress added millions to the budgets of the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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