Two major law enforcement organizations have taken Congress for a new spending plan that slashed funding for what they call “vital law enforcement programs.” The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) criticized deep budget cuts in the fiscal year that started October 1 and urged more aid for law enforcement next year. “Now is not the time to cut vital funding that law enforcement officers need to protect America’s communities,” said police chief Mary Ann Viverette of Gaithersburg, Md., IACP President. Separately, David Jones, president of the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA), said the cuts would have a “significant impact” on antidrug task forces, drug courts, and criminal history improvement programs, among others.
IACP said the new budget cuts law enforcement assistance programs by about 30 percent, “forcing many departments to continue using antiquated and inefficient communications equipment and others to lay off officers.” Edmund M. “Ted” Sexton, Sr., Sheriff of Tuscaloosa County, Al. and president of the National Sheriffs’ Association said, “We find this level of funding to be unacceptable and believe that Congress is failing to adequately recognize the full mission and scope of local law enforcement! Cuts of this magnitude will seriously inhibit our ability to protect our communities and secure the homeland.” Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, federak funding for local law enforcement agencies has been on a sharp decline. In FY 2002, the COPS and “justice assistance grant” programs were funded at $2.47 billion. In the current budget, these programs were funded at $894.8 million, a cut of more than $1.5 billion or nearly 64 percent. The NCJA’s Jones said that over the past two years, states will have suffered a cut of almost two-thirds in federal aid for anticrime programs.