Law Enforcement Officials Decry Clinton's Policing Plan

Article excerpt

Some Illinois law enforcement officials fear President Bill Clinton's plan to put 100,000 new police officers on the street will wreck proven anti-drug programs by substituting rookie beat cops.

Two dozen law enforcement leaders in the Metro East area plan to join Terrance Gainer, director of state police, in a news conference today at Bi-State Parks Airport in Cahokia to express their concern.

They want to warn the public that the war on drugs could be sacrificed in the name of community policing.

Lt. Robert Henry, whose DELTA Team in East St. Louis arrests 40 to 50 drug dealers a month, said he would welcome new officers as reinforcements, but not as substitutes for his seasoned veterans.

Henry said Clinton's plan might eliminate federal grants that support the DELTA Team and Metropolitan Enforcement (MEG) units.

"I know he thinks he's doing good by robbing Peter to pay Paul," Henry said. "But citizens are elated over our efforts."

State Police Lt. Jere Juenger, district MEG director, coordinates the work of Henry's DELTA Team, undercover officers and related prosecution, treatment and prevention efforts.

Juenger likes Clinton's plan to put new officers on the street. "But it's got to come from new funding," he said. "It can't destroy what's in place."

Juenger said the federal program to battle drug traffic - it's known as the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program - is budgeted for $358 million for the year ending Sept. 30.

Illinois is scheduled to get almost $14.8 million to finance 10 MEG units and 13 task forces such as the DELTA Team, he said. "My units receive $785,000. That is the federal share."

With that and other federal programs, plus $500,000 from the Illinois Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Juenger coordinates efforts worth $1. …

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