77th Annual Meeting

AMERICAN INVESTMENTS TO PREVENT AND RESPOND TO CRIME

WHEREAS, more than 50 mayors and police chiefs met at The U.S. Conference of Mayors' Action Forum on Crime in Philadelphia August 5-6, 2008, to develop an action agenda on crime; and

WHEREAS, following that meeting a working group of mayors and police chiefs drafted a national action agenda on crime; and

WHEREAS, that national action agenda includes a series of findings and recommendations relating to investments to prevent and respond to crime; and

WHEREAS, the mayors and police chiefs found that:

  • Assuring public safety requires an active partnership between cities and the federal government; and

  • While public safety is primarily a local responsibility, the international aspects of the drug trade, gangs, and terrorism underscore the appropriateness of a federal government role in meeting local public safety responsibilities; and

  • During the period in which local governments were receiving federal assistance, primarily in the form of police officers provided by the COPS program, crime rates in cities declined, but since then, the number of police officers in cities has declined and cities have seen crime rates ; and

  • Today there are fewer police on the streets of our cities than there were prior to the 9/11 attacks, as demonstrated by a survey of 124 cities by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in August 2008 which showed that there are now 8.6 percent fewer officers in those survey cities than there were at the peak of their staffing levels; and

  • Cities need sustainable, dependable federal support for local law enforcement - flexible support that allows local officials to respond to locally identified needs and priorities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors adopts as its policy the investments called for by the mayors and police chiefs in the National Action Agenda on Crime:

  • The COPS program should be reinvigorated, but with flexibility that will allow for hiring both additional sworn officers and other kinds of personnel, such as those professionally trained in DNA analysis and forensics. That flexibility should also allow police departments to use the funding for overtime, training, and other purposes which will make the officers on hand as effective as possible.

  • The Byrne JAG grant should be fully funded so that it can continue to provide flexible assistance to police departments that can be used for, among other things, purchasing the equipment and technology needed to make prevention and enforcement efforts more efficient and effective.

  • Local officials should receive homeland security funds directly and should have the flexibility to use them to meet locally identified priorities. The Department of Homeland Security must recognize the value of allowing these funds to be used for beat officers. It is police officers - in touch with their communities and a presence in them every day - who will gather the intelligence and take the action that will stop terrorist threats in our cities. The Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program, which for several years provided flexible resources to local police departments, should be reinstated.

  • Consideration should be given to transferring responsibility for the administration of homeland security grants benefiting local law enforcement agencies from the Department of Homeland Security to the Department of Justice.

  • Consideration should be given to establishing a new block grant program, modeled after the Community Development Block Grant, which would provide police departments with flexible funds for prevention, enforcement, and analysis tailored to local needs.

  • The federal government operates numerous criminal investigative databases, three of which are extremely important to local police agencies: IAFIS (for fingerprints), NIBIN (for ballistics), and CODIS (for DNA). The federal government must fully support these databases by maintaining and upgrading them, providing better training, and establishing "best practices" protocols. Every effort should be made to remove bureaucratic impediments to accessing these databases, including the greater use of "certified" private labs to expand capacity and reduce long-term backlogs.