Some conservatives have opposed federal crime-fighting aid to states and localities, but Cully Stimson of the Heritage Foundation has come out in favor of restoring cuts made by Congress to the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. In a commentary on Foxnews.com, Stimson says that, “For all sorts of political reasons, Congress has funded some worthwhile crime-prevention programs in some years, only to pull the money a year or two later. This makes no sense, and it needs to change.” Stimson says that crimes truly interstate in nature – and deserving of Byrne grants – include interstate drug and gang task forces, DNA database identification systems, programs aimed at combating child abuse facilitated through the Internet, and sex-offender registry databases.
Byrne grants give local police the extra funds and incentive to do more than just catch the local crooks, says Stimson. No money leads to no incentive and sometimes no ability to catch some of the bad guys. Congress cut funding for the program by two-thirds, from $520 million in 2007 to $170 million for this year. These cuts are hitting law enforcers in every state and thousands of localities. Rural communities will be the hardest hit, and crime rates inevitably will go up. Like every federal program, Byrne grants aren't perfect, Stimson writes: Too much money goes to local police forces simply to “beef up” their operations – in other words, for ordinary policing. That's important, but it's not a federal priority and shouldn't get federal funding. Too often, police forces use the money to pay for things they would have bought anyway. Even with shortcomings, Byrne grants play a vital role in national crime-fighting, Stimson concludes.