Congress Cuts 2006 Budget for COPS, JAG Programs

WASHINGTON, Congress approved on Nov. 16 the Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 budget for the Departments of Commerce, Justice and State, which slashed funding for vital law enforcement programs. Funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program was cut by 21 percent (a reduction of $127.7 million) and the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program by 34 percent (a cut of $217.5 million).

Many in law enforcement consider COPS and JAG to be extremely successful programs. According to a recent release from the International Association for Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), each of these programs has allowed state, local, tribal and university law enforcement agencies to increase their capabilities and improve their effectiveness. JAG funds, in particular, have provided funds for critical operational activities such as drug task forces. The NSA and IACP claim that for more than a decade, COPS grants and the Byrne Program have provided law enforcement with resources to strengthen their core capabilities and have allowed them to greatly improve upon their crime fighting efforts.

“Now is not the time to cut vital funding that law enforcement officers need to protect America’s communities,” said Mary Ann Viverette, Chief of the Gaithersburg, Md. Police Department and IACP President. “This budget cuts funding for critical law enforcement assistance programs by almost 30 percent, forcing many departments to continue using antiquated and inefficient communications equipment and others to lay off officers. Demanding that we play a central role in our nation’s homeland security efforts, while at the same time cutting the resources we need to do our job, is both hypocritical and irresponsible.”

Edmund M. “Ted” Sexton, Sr., Sheriff of Tuscaloosa County, Ala., and NSA president said, “We find this level of funding to be unacceptable and believe that Congress is failing to adequately recognize the full mission and scope of local law enforcement! Cuts of this magnitude will seriously inhibit our ability to protect our communities and secure the homeland.” He continued, “In order to keep our neighborhoods safe from crime and free of drugs, law enforcement must be given the resources they need! Congress has not provided us with those resources!”

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