House Spending Cuts and Local Law Enforcement
Today, I was in Chester, Pennsylvania to discuss the impact House cuts to Department of Justice programs would have on local law enforcement. I was joined by Chester Mayor Wendell Butler, Chester Councilwoman Portia West, Police Chief Darren Alston and Police Major’s John Gretsky and Robert Archacki. The City of Chester has benefited from two Department of Justice funding programs, specifically, over the past two years. The Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program funding over the past several years has allowed the Department to purchase nine new police vehicles, new bullet proof vests along with other communications and data equipment. And the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Recovery Program helped the Chester Police Department put five additional patrol officers on the streets.
This funding is essential to the Chester Police Department, and to many other police departments across Pennsylvania. This fact was reemphasized with me today as I spoke to Mayor Butler, Chief Alston and Major’s Gretsky and Archacki. Unfortunately, Chester experienced a rash of violence in early 2010. This funding helps to ensure that local law enforcement can help prevent a similar string of violence from happening again by putting patrol officers on the streets in high-risk areas and ensuring that those officers have the necessary equipment to respond to situations safely and effectively.
On February 11, I sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, urging them to reconsider cuts to State and Local Law Enforcement and the COPS program for fiscal year 2011. My discussion today, with officials on the ground, underscores what I wrote in that letter “…the significant reduction in funding for these initiatives will negatively impact the safety of my constituents and citizens across the country.” I look forward to working in the Senate to make sure that these programs receive the appropriate funding to continue preventing and reducing crime.