How to Cut Crime and Bureaucracy

Article excerpt

In a recent media event staged at the Department of Justice, president Clinton proclaimed that he was proud of the recently enacted crime bill and declared that battling crime was one of his administration's priorities. At the same time the president was attempting to position himself as a crime fighter, however, his budget planners were apparently at work slashing the funds available for federal law enforcement, according to recent media reports.

Louis J. Freeh, director of the FBI, and Thomas J. Constantine, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, were quoted as saying that federal law-enforcement efforts would be seriously undermined by the proposed cuts. Even Attorney General Janet Reno questioned whether the proposed cuts were "realistic" in light of the administration's stated commitment to fighting crime.

If these reports are true, the contemplated cuts could seriously threaten effective federal law enforcement. The country is reeling from the effects of violent crime, illegal drug use and the disintegration of family and community. While the federal budget must be cut, law enforcement - a core government function - must not bear the brunt of those cuts.

Reno, to her credit, created a new office to streamline and coordinate federal law-enforcement efforts. That office, known as the Office of Investigative Agency priorities, or OIAP, currently is headed by Freeh and consists of members drawn from some of the most important federal law-enforcement agencies: the FBI, the DEA, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Justice Department's Criminal Division. In addition to encouraging cooperation among the federal law-enforcement agencies - many of which have overlapping jurisdictions - the OIAP has taken steps to eliminate duplicative operations and to streamline law-enforcement functions.

For example, the FBI and DEA have established a joint drug-intelligence database. That database will allow agents from each agency to determine whether the other agency is investigating a common target. …