Washington, D.C. – Last night the U.S. House of Representatives passed funding for Northwest Washington law enforcement and drug prevention as part of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010. U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) secured funding for the Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative, the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force and the Whatcom County Rapid Border Prosecution Initiative as part of the legislation. The funding passed the House by a vote of 259 - 157 and must clear the Senate before it could be signed into law.
“From Blaine to Snohomish, law enforcement officers work every day to keep our communities safe and drug-free,” said Larsen. “We cannot afford to shortchange their work. It is one of my top goals to support local law enforcement and help our communities improve public safety. As the appropriations process moves forward, I look forward to working with my Washington State colleagues Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to deliver the resources our communities need to effectively fight drugs and crime.”
The bill also includes language requiring the Department of Commerce to report back to Congress in 45 days regarding the Department’s efforts to promote the exports of small-and-medium-sized businesses in the United States to China. This follows legislation that Congressman Larsen has introduced, HR 2310, The US-China Market Engagement and Export Promotion Act, which expands programs within the Commerce Department and the Small Business Administration to help small-and-businesses to sell their goods in China and create jobs here in the United States.
The Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill provides the following funding:
· Overall, provides $3.4 billion for state and local law enforcement and crime prevention grants to keep our communities safe.
· Provides $802 million for the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program, including $298 million for COPS Hiring Grants. When combined with the $1 billion provided in the Recovery Act for COPS Hiring Grants, this will enable the hiring of more than 7,000 police officers across the country.
· Provides $529 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program. These grants are used by local law enforcement agencies for a broad range of activities to better fight and prevent crime.
Larsen secured the following appropriations:
Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative
The legislation includes $1.5 million to continue a statewide, multi-disciplinary effort including law enforcement, specialized drug treatment and prevention components, and professional training to combat methamphetamine use in Washington state. Specific program efforts include proactive methamphetamine lab investigations, treatment programs designed to address methamphetamine where it impacts families, and the mobilization of Meth Action Teams (MATs) to undertake local education and prevention efforts.
“Thanks to recent Congressional allocations, the Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative (WSMI) has made great strides in abating the scourge of methamphetamine across the state through proactive enforcement and innovate treatment, prevention and community-based efforts,” said Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative Terree Schmidt-Whelan. “The Initiative effected an almost 90% reduction in illicit meth labs and dump sites over the last decade and attained an 80% success rate in helping meth-dependent parents to recovery and reunification with their children. Methamphetamine Action Teams (MATs) organized by the Initiative now serve every county, getting local communities to team with governmental resources to combat the meth problem at the grassroots level. Because of these very notable successes, WSMI has become a national model endorsed by the Department of Justice.”
“When it comes to confronting the meth epidemic, Washington State is a national leader due in no small part to the work of the Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative and their community partners,” said Larsen, co-chair of the Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine. “A three-pronged strategy is needed to fight the meth epidemic: prevent drug abuse through education, invest in treatment to strengthen our community and save money in the long-term, and support law enforcement as they work to keep us safe.”
Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force
The legislation includes a Larsen earmark of $70,000 to provide Snohomish County law enforcement officers with concealed cameras and vehicle trackers, critical tools to conduct drug trafficking investigations. The cameras allow for covert surveillance of drug trafficking organizations where more conventional methods have failed, enabling law enforcement to bust trafficking rings and prosecute drug dealers.
“This type of federal funding is crucial for local drug task forces to keep up with the escalating illicit drug threat we are facing,” said Pat Slack, Commander of the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force.
Whatcom County Rapid Border Prosecution Initiative
The legislation includes $430,000 to help the Rapid Border Prosecution Project, established in 2005, make the local criminal justice system more efficient by purchasing specialized software to interface with the existing criminal justice database. As a result, judges and professional law enforcement personnel will have more immediate access to vital information regarding offenders in the criminal justice system, which will greatly reduce the backlog of border-related prosecutions. Whatcom County bears a heavy burden processing and prosecuting cases that result from border-related crime, costing the county $2.1 million annually.
“I am pleased the House has recognized the importance of supporting public safety efforts in northern border communities,” said Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen. “This funding will allow Whatcom County to prosecute criminal offenders coming in contact with the international border.”