Crime Law Redux ... Both Houses Revisit Prevention, Funding

Article excerpt

The opening shots in a battle to retain and improve upon the 1994 Anti-Crime Law--a law for which cities fought long and hard --were fired last week.

Legislation (HR 3 and S 3) has been introduced in both the House and Senate that would amend the new 1994 anti-crime law. For cities, key concerns are preserving direct funding and flexibility to pay for municipal prevention programs. Both legislative initiatives, however, promise greater flexibility for the Cops on the Beat program and removal of the matching funds requirement.

But, of particular concern to municipal elected officials is that both bills would repeal all NLC-supported prevention programs in the current law, and alter the COPS program mainly by replacing the current discretionary grant with a formula block grant approach.

The ways that goal is accomplished in HR 3, the Taking Back Our Streets Act of 1995 and S. 3, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Improvement Act of 1995 are very different. The accompanying chart provides a comparison between HR 3, S. 3, and the 1994 Act.

Taking Back Our Streets Act of 1995 (HR 3)

Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.), the new chair of the House Judiciary subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice has proposed legislation that would make changes in the local law enforcement grant program, and eliminate the entire prevention package. The bill focuses mainly on the criminal justice system by strengthening law enforcement, habeas corpus reform, exclusionary rule reform, federal death penalty reform, and increased penalties for committing serious violent crimes. For municipalities, two key issues face considerable change: the COPS program and the prevention package.

HR 3 would replace the current COPS program with a law enforcement formula block grant in which funds would be distributed on the basis of part 1 violent crimes and population. …