The Bush administration is proposing a modest $200 million grant program to help law enforcement agencies respond to rising violent crime in many cities, says USA Today. The program would help local and state police agencies pay for officers’ overtime, equipment and other expenses stemming from new regional task forces aimed at curbing violent crime, said Domingo Herraiz of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The task forces would be staffed with federal, state and local officers to deal with a range of growing crime problems, including recent increases in gang-related violence, gun-related crimes, and illegal sales of methamphetamine.
If approved by Congress, the program would symbolize a renewed interest in federal funding for local police initiatives, which often have taken a backseat to homeland security programs since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The new “Violent Crime Reduction Partnership Initiative” would not be designed to help police agencies hire new officers. It would allow agencies to apply for grants of $30,000-$200,000 to deploy and equip officers who make up the anti-crime task forces. Police groups have asked the White House to continue the Clinton administration’s $8 billion police hiring program that added tens of thousands of officers. Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Reserch Forum said the new program falls well short of that, but “is a step in the right direction.”