Washington, DC—Democratic Senators and local officials held a press conference Wednesday to discuss how the President’s law-enforcement priorities are out of touch with the needs of the American people. Cuts in funding for important law enforcement initiatives such as the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant program have led to increased crime throughout the country, and this week’s FBI crime report further highlights this trend. Democrats called on the President to invest in America’s priorities.
“It’s no coincidence that for years, the Bush Administration and earlier Republican Congresses have systematically tried to dismantle front-line support for our local and state law enforcement in our communities – like the successful COPS community policing program, along with other targeted help to the police officers who are in the trenches, fighting crime,” said Senator Patrick Leahy. “Step by step, the Bush Administration has squandered those gains. Eight days’ worth of Iraq spending would fully fund the Department of Justice appropriations bill for all state and local law enforcement assistance programs. We can’t afford to let the White House keep the federal government on the sidelines while violent crime makes a comeback. Fighting crime and partnering with local police once again needs to be a high priority, and the Democratic Congress is determined to once again make fighting crime the high priority the American people need and deserve it to be.”
Said Senator Debbie Stabenow: “The rise in crime throughout our country is further evidence that this administration has ignored its most fundamental responsibility, keeping our communities safe. This is about values and priorities, and when we’re spending over $12 billion a month in Iraq, the President has proposed cutting $1.4 billion in essential law enforcement funding. The brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day keeping our communities safe deserve better, and the American people deserve better.”
“Violent crime is on the rise, but President Bush is on the run,” said Senator Frank Lautenberg. “Instead of investing in proven crime-fighting programs like COPS, this Administration wants to slash those programs. The President needs to get in touch with the American people’s priorities and fund programs to keep our communities safe.”
Said Doug Palmer, Mayor of Trenton, N.J., and President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors: “The release this week of FBI statistics citing an increase in violent crime in this country only confirms the need for stronger local-federal partnerships. Mayors around the country have consistently worked with police chiefs to push for strong federal crime prevention and anti-gang measures. We must do everything we can to let Congress and the Administration know that cities cannot fight this battle by themselves.”
“Like all politics, all crime is local,” said Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch. “So, for prosecutors who know that community policing and crime-prevention programs are real solutions that deliver real results at the local level, and are not just fuzzy abstractions whose benefits cannot easily be quantified, the last three or four years of the Bush Administration have been particularly discouraging. At the national level, we need a fundamental restructuring of our budget priorities that includes increased funding for law enforcement so that, at the local level, we prosecutors have the tools we need to better manage our caseloads and help keep our communities safe.”