Budget-Cut Plan Would Hurt Law Enforcement, Police Say

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More than 70 of the nation's police chiefs, concerned over proposed reductions in the Bush administration's 2005 budget they say will seriously hurt state and local law enforcement, called on Congress yesterday to restore $1.57 billion in proposed cuts.

Led by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the law enforcement officials - who described the proposed budget reductions in a report this week as "unacceptable and intolerable" - spent the day on Capitol Hill asking for help.

"Targeting law enforcement assistance programs for reductions of this magnitude has the potential to significantly weaken the ability of state and local law enforcement agencies to protect our communities from both traditional acts of crime and the new specter of terrorism," said IACP President Joseph M. Polisar, chief of police in Garden Grove, Calif.

"This is unacceptable," he said, noting that if the Bush budget is enacted as submitted, law enforcement assistance funding will decline for the first time since the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Chief Polisar said combined funding proposals for law enforcement assistance programs at the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security is proposed at $3.25 billion, a reduction of $1.57 billion, or 31.9 percent, from 2004.

The major programs facing cuts under the pending Omnibus Appropriations legislation are the Community Oriented Policing Services program, also known as COPS, and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program, which assists state and local police with grants for law enforcement programs. …