Congress may be moving toward raising federal aid for state and local law enforcement and criminal justice programs significantly over last year’s levels. The Bush administration has sought cuts in many programs. Last night, the House subcommittee that handles the Justice Department’s appropriations held its annual “mark up” of funding levels. The National Criminal Justice Association, which represents state criminal justice agencies, says the panel voted $600 million for state and local justice assistance grants, up from $520 million currently.
The committee recommended $725 million for the federal community oriented policing program (COPS), including $100 million for a police hiring initiative. COPS is getting $542 million now. Overall, state and local justice assistance programs would get $3.2 billion, a 10 percent increase over the current year and a 53 percent increase over the president’s request, NCJA says. The subcommittee proposal is merely an opening shot in a long appropriations process but it gives some indication of how Congress under Democratic leadership may attempt to change the federal anticrime aid program.