Washington DC- On the eve of the Vice President’s visit to Pennsylvania, U.S Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on President Obama to increase funding for programs like the Byrne JAG program, the Bulletproof Vest Program and the COPS program in his upcoming budget.
“The Byrne JAG program is the centerpiece of the federal commitment to state and local law enforcement,” the letter reads. “In Pennsylvania, the Byrne JAG program supports broad law enforcement needs as well as innovative initiatives such as prosecution and courts, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness programs.”
The COPS Program is responsible for advancing the practice of community policing in the nation’s state, local, territory, and tribal law enforcement agencies. COPS has provided over $307 million in grants to Pennsylvania law enforcement for resources and equipment to both fight and prevent crime, as well as funding 3,667 additional police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Pennsylvania.
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) Program supports crime fighting innovation and has helped local law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania ensure immediate and thorough responses to crimes.
The Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program provides police officers with bulletproof vests and literally saves lives. FBI data released last year revealed a 25 percent increase in police officers killed by perpetrators in 2011.
Senator Casey has been fighting for increased funding for law enforcement. Below are some of his recent efforts:
In March 2012, Senator Casey sent a letter to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urging full funding in Fiscal Year 2013 for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) Program, and the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program. He followed that letter with one to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling for the same full funding for those programs in the final FY 2013 appropriations
A full copy of Senator Casey’s letter is below:
February 10, 2013
The White House
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Mr. President,
As you prepare your Fiscal Year 2014 budget, I respectfully request you prioritize funding for state and local law enforcement programs. Within the Department of Justice budget, these programs have been cut back far more than other initiatives and as a result have been funded well below authorized levels. Your leadership will be necessary to reverse this trend in the upcoming fiscal year to ensure we provide the support needed to prevent and reduce incidence of violent crime.
For anyone concerned with public safety, the magnitude of recent cutbacks has been startling. Funding for state and local law enforcement programs were reduced by a total of over $1.2 billion in FY 2011 and FY 2012. Programs like the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) program, Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) program are a key part of national violent crime reduction efforts, yet each one has faced substantial cuts. These funding reductions have meant fewer officers, fewer bullet-proof vests and placed a burden on law enforcement across the country.
The Byrne JAG program is the centerpiece of the federal commitment to state and local law enforcement. In Pennsylvania, the Byrne JAG program supports broad law enforcement needs as well as innovative initiatives such as prosecution and courts, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness programs. Luzerne County has used Byrne JAG funds to run a drug treatment court for non-violent offenders that has saved the County an estimated $428,000 in prison housing costs. The City of Philadelphia used a Byrne grant to provide customized training to ex-offenders in telecommunications and cable installation, providing employment opportunities that will make these individuals less likely to commit crimes in the future.
I am convinced that cuts to programs like Byrne JAG are shortsighted and dangerous to local communities, and I am committed to working with colleagues both sides of the aisle to restore funding for state and local law enforcement programs. Importantly, appropriators will look to your FY 2014 budget as an indicator of the value of these programs. Therefore, I urge you to include increased funding for state and local law enforcement programs, including Byrne-JAG, COPS, and BVP, in the upcoming budget. I look forward to continued collaboration between us and our staffs to address this important issue.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator