CHESTER, PA — U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), was in Chester today where he joined Mayor Wendell N. Butler, Jr., Police Chief Darren Alston, District Attorney G. Michael Green, city council members and law enforcement officials to oppose proposed cuts to local law enforcement. These cuts would reduce the amount of federal funding available to local communities.
“The cuts to local law enforcement agencies passed by the U.S. House will lead to reduced federal support for these essential services in communities like Chester,” said Senator Casey. “This funding supports the men and women who work tirelessly to keep our neighborhoods safe and helps to ensure that local budgets are not further strained. That is why I have been fighting law enforcement cuts in Congress.”
“Over the past several years, the city has utilized JAG resources to fund police equipment and patrol vehicles, allowing the City to better protect and serve its citizens,” said Mayor Wendell N. Butler, Jr. “Without a doubt, federal programs like JAG are critically important, as they greatly support our public safety efforts.”
Last month, Senator Casey sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers opposing their proposed cuts to the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and the State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance program which funds the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) program, the Drug Courts program and the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.
Despite some funding being added back during floor debate on the bill, the legislation passed by the House would still cut the COPS program by $600 million and the Local Law Enforcement program, which includes the JAG program, by $256 million.
Nationwide, over 122,000 police officers have been hired as a direct result of the COPS program. This initiative provides funding to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to train and hire new officers to participate in community policing, acquire new crime-fighting technology and test and develop new innovative policing strategies. Local chiefs of police, sheriffs and others agree that the COPS program has played a pivotal role in crime reduction.
Federal funds received from the COPS program are being utilized by the City of Chester to strengthen its police force. To ensure the police department is appropriately responsive to the ever changing demands of the city, 5 new officers were recently sworn into the force.
Since 2009, the City has received more than $850,000 in JAG funding which supports a broad range of law enforcement activities that work to better control and prevent crime overall.
Through JAG funds the City has been able to improve the Chester Police Department’s internal technologies with the purchase of a new server and desktop computers. Also funded through the JAG program, the City has been able to bolster its vehicle patrol units with the purchase of new police cruisers. As for equipment, the City also purchased portable police radios and equipment for wireless cameras. JAG funds will fund the purchase of bulletproof vests and a forensic video enhancement system which provides increased detection of suspects caught on video, images or audio.