Letter Requesting Full Funding of the Byrne JAG and COPS Programs

Dear Chairman Wolf and Ranking Member Fattah:

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to appropriately rebalance limited resources in this difficult fiscal climate to support our nation’s highest priorities.  As you begin to craft the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriation bill for Fiscal Year 2012, we urge you to include sufficient funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program. Both programs are critical to ensuring that state and local law enforcement have the tools, personnel, and resources necessary to protect and serve their communities.

Since their inception, the Byrne JAG and COPS Hiring programs have enabled law enforcement agencies to form vital partnerships among the community and law enforcement officers, combat criminal activities, and develop and implement problem-solving and crime prevention programs nationwide.  The two programs work hand-in-hand to provide evidence-based and innovative programs to address a multitude of problems within the criminal justice system.  Consider:

  • Byrne JAG resources are leveraged by local law enforcement agencies for operations, information sharing, DNA analysis and cold case units, school violence prevention programs, crime victim and witness programs, court and reentry programs, equipment, and training.
  • Byrne JAG also fosters critical collaboration and information sharing among law enforcement agencies through the operation of multijurisdictional drug task forces, which allow law enforcement agencies to join together in targeting large, regional drug-trafficking organizations.
  • The COPS Program has put 117,000 officers in communities across the United States to advance community policing efforts and anti-crime programs.  These are the critical “bodies on the street,” whether they are extra officers patrolling a high-crime area; community-relations officers working to encourage community trust in law enforcement; or school resource officers ensuring a school is a safe environment for students to learn.

In recent years, law enforcement agencies have watched their budgets diminish significantly, resulting in agencies making extremely difficult sacrifices. For example, many law enforcement agencies have been increasing the size of an officer’s patrol area and decreasing the number of officers on a shift due to a lack of available personnel. Additionally, many law enforcement agencies have had to scale back or close key crime-fighting, crime-reducing, and crime-prevention programs, due to a lack of funding and the need to prioritize where personnel is needed. These setbacks not only pose a serious risk to officers who may now patrol a high-crime area alone or wait longer for back-up; they also hamper law enforcement’s ability to effectively and efficiently fight and prevent crime in communities.

Byrne JAG and COPS Hiring are imperative to the success of law enforcement in keeping our communities safe.  These programs are squarely in the federal interest because crime and criminals respect no borders – whether international, state, county, tribal, or municipal.  These programs supplement the manpower and incentivize the collaboration across agencies that is necessary to build upon successful crime reduction efforts over the past 20 years.

In this tough economic time, when there have been increases in violent crime, drug sales, and threats to homeland security and the safety of the public, it is essential that law enforcement has the resources necessary to effectively and efficiently protect the public.  Therefore, we respectfully request that you include sufficient funding for the Byrne JAG and COPS Hiring programs in the FY2012 CJS appropriation bill.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.