“We walked away encouraged” from a meeting yesterday of fifteen urban and suburban police chiefs with White House budget director Rob Portman and domestic policy adviser Gregory Jacob, says Chuck Wexler, director of the Police Executive Research Forum. In a 90-minute session, Portman “asked good questions” about how law enforcement’s efforts to deal with a spike in crime in many areas “intersects with homeland security,” Wexler said.
The chiefs asked Portman, Jacob, and other officials to give them more leeway in deciding how to spend federal anticrime and homeland security money. Wexler said the delegation made no specific request for additional federal aid but rather cited “the need for more flexibility and discretion.” Wexler concluded: “We thought we were taken seriously–they want to work with us.” He could not recall a previous meeting between police chiefs and an OMB director. Law enforcement leaders have been worrying about the shift of federal dollars from traditional crime fightring to terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001. Chiefs attending represented Atlanta, Baltimore County, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Houston, Las Vegas, Montgomery County, Md., Orlando, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Prince William County, Va., and Washington, D.C.