IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2002

Mayors, Police Chiefs Fear Federal Budget Cuts Could Jeopardize Further Progress Fighting Crime
Also Seek Direct Assistance for First Responders

Washington, DC -- A group of mayors and police chiefs from across the country joined Senator Hillary Clinton and other members of the Senate on Capitol Hill today to express their concern that further progress in reducing crime in our cities would be jeopardized by proposed cuts in federal programs that assist local law enforcement.


(from left:) Police chiefs from across the country join U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (NY), U.S. Senator Joseph Biden (DE), Hempstead Mayor James Garner, San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (CT), U.S. Conference of Mayors President New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, and North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hayes in front of the Capitol to express concerns towards proposed federal cuts in key local law enforcement

KEY LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT PROGRAMS THREATENED

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)
COPS is a federal-local partnership that promotes community policing and funds additional police officers and new technology. Created in the 1994 crime bill to put 100,000 new cops on the beat nationwide, COPS has helped contribute to a record decrease in crime nationwide by -

  • Investing $8.6 billion for 32,700 grants to add officers to the street, enhance technology, support crime prevention, and advance community policing;
  • Funding more than 114,000 officers and more than 4,500 school resource officers;
  • Providing law enforcement agencies with over $1 billion for technology enhancements; and
  • Funding more than 4,500 and awarded over $500 million in youth/school crime prevention, intervention, and enforcement.

President Bush's budget for fiscal 2003 proposes a cut of nearly $600 million or 80 percent in the COPS program (from $739 million to $164 million), including elimination of all funding for hiring community-based police.

Local Law Enforcement Block Grant
The Local Law Enforcement Block Grant was created in 1996 to assist cities with projects that reduce crime and improve public safety. The program helps local police departments pay for hiring, training, and overtime for officers, fund drug courts, and purchase equipment.

For example, Akron used these funds to clean-up a number of high drug trafficking area. Fort Worth's anti-gang efforts are supported by these funds. And Everett, Washington has used block grant funding to purchase mobile data terminals, allowing expediting reporting of crimes.

President Bush's budget for fiscal 2003 would merge the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program with another local law enforcement program and reduced the combined account by nearly $200 million - from $522 million to $400 million. And that comes on top of the 25% cut the program suffered last year.

The Administration's budget for fiscal 2003 proposes a cut of nearly $600 million or 80 percent in the COPS program, a federal-local partnership that promotes community policing and funds additional police officers and new technology. The proposed cut would eliminate all funding for hiring community-based and school-based police officers. Similarly, the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program, which helps local police departments pay for hiring, training, and overtime for officers, as well as equipment purchases, would be merged with another program and cut by $200 million. And that is on top of the 25% cut the program suffered last year.

"Mayors and police chiefs across the nation are strongly opposed to any cuts in these essential local law enforcement resources," said New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "We do not want to jeopardize the crime reductions we have seen over the last decade in many U.S. cities, while we also fight the domestic war on terrorism."

According to the House Judiciary Committee's "Views and Estimates" on the Administration's budget proposal, "The Committee specifically recommends that funding be increased for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program. The COPS program has provided funding to put more than 110,000 new officers on the beat, coinciding in a historic drop in crime. A recent University of Nebraska study, the most comprehensive look ever at the impact of a police presence on crime rates, found that COPS is directly linked to the drop in crime since 1995, preventing tens of thousands of violent crimes and hundreds of thousands of property crimes."

Yesterday, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley led the mayors and police chiefs on a walking tour of Central Park Heights, an area of his city that has seen double-digit reductions in crime over the past two years. He said the city's success in reducing crime reflected a partnership with Washington, a partnership that is now at risk.

"Baltimore has come along way in two years," said Mayor Martin O'Malley. "We've cut violent crime by 24%, in large part because these grant programs and our strong relationship with the COPS administrators at the federal level has helped us get 200 more police officers on the street. These funds are simply a must for continuing the positive trends against crime that Baltimore and other cities have seen in recent years."

The proposed cuts come at a time when city budgets are already strained because of the recession and increased security spending. A recent study released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors estimated that cities will spend an additional $2.6 billion on security from September 11, 2001 through the end of 2002. The President's budget proposes $3.5 billion in new anti-terrorism funding for first responders at the state and local levels.

"We must not rob Peter to pay Paul," said Mayor Morial. "We cannot afford to cut funding that helps prevent street crime in order to finance needed efforts to prevent terrorism."

Mayors also expressed concerns about the Administration's plan to send homeland security/first responder assistance through the states. Instead, they said they strongly support Sen. Clinton's bill to create a homeland security block grant with needed funding channeled directly to cities, where it can be most efficiently utilized.

Contact:
Andy Solomon, (202) 861-6766

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©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors