Leahy Focuses On Anti-Crime Funding Needs By Law Enforcement Agencies In The Stimulus Package As He Sets First Judiciary Committee Hearing In The New Congress

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) today set a hearing for Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009, to examine proposals to provide resources for underfunded law enforcement programs in the economic stimulus package. The stimulus package is being drafted by lawmakers in advance of the 111th Congress. The hearing will be the first Judiciary Committee hearing of the new Congress.

Leahy, who also serves as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has requested funding in the stimulus package for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), the Byrne grant program and other initiatives that assist state and local law enforcement agencies by providing resources to hire more police officers and to buttress other anti-crime efforts and proven crime prevention strategies. During the Bush administration these and other anti-crime programs have suffered funding cuts that have resulted in staffing shortages across the country and fewer cops on the street.

“The budget priorities of the Bush administration have weakened some of our most important federal anti-crime programs,” said Leahy. “As the nation plunges deeper into recession, it is essential that we restore funding to programs like COPS and the Byrne grant program so that state and local communities strapped for funds can prevent a rising tide of crime.”

Leahy is a longtime advocate on behalf of state and local law enforcement agencies and the grant programs that help them do their jobs. In 2008 he chaired two hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Vermont, where witnesses testified about the importance of federal funding for state and local law enforcement officers who are fighting crime on the front lines in their streets and communities.

The hearing will focus on the importance of federal assistance programs like COPS and Byrne. Leahy has championed several crime prevention and enforcement programs that have been underfunded during the Bush administration, including the Leahy-authored Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program, the Violence Against Women Act, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, and the Rural Drug Enforcement Grant Program.

The hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. and will be webcast live online.

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