Cuts in a key federal drug-enforcement program threaten efforts in Iowa just as the state has shown progress in the fight against methamphetamine, say officials quoted by the Des Moines Register. An appropriations bill passed last month by Congress cut the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program by about 70 percent. Iowa politicians say they will fight the cuts, but all sides agree that the cuts reflect a shift in national priorities toward the war on terrorism. (The newspaper incorrectly characterized the cuts as proposed.)
The federal grant represents that largest chunk of the Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy’s budget. Officials say the cuts will stall some of their deeper investigations into narcotics suppliers and dealers. Cerro Gordo County Sheriff Kevin Pals said further federal cuts would make broad investigations more difficult. He said Iowans must then decide which front of the drug war – treatment or enforcement – they want to fight. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) will press for amendments this winter to restore cuts. Law enforcement officers across the U.S. also are fighting the cuts. Indiana’s chief drug-enforcement officer said investigations will suffer and officials will be forced to compete for private grants to keep up the effort. Other federal grants includes child-abuse investigations in San Antonio, digital mapping equipment for police cars in Houston, and gang-resistance education in Georgia.