Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Conyers, Clarke, Peters, Scott, Jackson Lee, Waters, Cohen, Johnson, Chu Introduce “Shield Our Streets Act” to Fight Street Crime in Budget-Strapped Communities Across the Country

Conyers, Clarke, Peters, Scott, Jackson Lee, Waters, Cohen, Johnson, Chu Introduce “Shield Our Streets Act” to Fight Street Crime in Budget-Strapped Communities Across the Country

U.S Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
(WASHINGTON)–Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.),  Representative Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.), Representative Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Representative Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), and Representative Judy Chu (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 4098, the “Shield Our Streets Act.” As a result of state cuts, local governments face dwindling law enforcement budgets and police department resources are being stretched thin in order to make up the difference.  The Shield Our Streets Acts creates additional law enforcement funding grants to help police agencies and local governments continue the fight against crime areas across the United States in spite of these budget cuts.
“As Ranking Member, I urge the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on this critical legislation,” said Rep. Conyers.  “Our local law enforcement agencies and local governments face tighter budgets, so Congress must redouble its efforts to help them protect our communities from crime.  Police officers are on the front lines in the fight against crime, and we need to do even more to ensure local law enforcement agencies are sufficiently staffed with officers and sheriffs.   Local governments also need the funding and flexibility to pay for crime fighting equipment and programs which they identify as priority needs.  For instance in my district, the City of Highland Park needs assistance in paying for street lights that will deter criminal activity on its streets.” 

“We need to keep our streets safe to protect our children and our communities and to keep businesses and jobs in our cities,” said Rep. Clarke.  “This bill will greatly improve the ability of cities like Detroit to fight and prevent crime, which will strengthen our nation as a whole.”

“Providing federal funding for high need areas to create and protect jobs for police officers is common sense”  said Rep. Peters.  “I'm strongly backing this legislation to support our brave officers and make meaningful investments in safeguarding our communities.”

“Research has shown that more police on the beat means less crime along with less costs and more vibrate, productive communities,” said Rep Scott.  “For anyone interested in seeing the proof of this, I refer them to the recently released book by noted criminologist Frank Zimring, entitled ‘The City that Became Safe,’ which details how increased numbers of police on the beat contributed to New York City reducing crime by 80% over the last 2 decades.”

“This bill provides local communities with the monetary resources that they need to keep our streets safe,” said Rep. Jackson Lee.  “The Shield Police hiring program will enable local governments to hire, train and retain additional police officers to combat crime.  It gives me a great sense of pleasure and accomplishment to know that taxpayers’ dollars are being used for the important task of making sure our communities have the resources and manpower needed to keep our neighborhoods safe. I will continue to work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that urban areas, such as Houston, get the necessary funds needed to secure our communities”

“Due to California’s budgetary constraints, the ‘Shield Our Streets Act’ will go a long way towards ensuring that Los Angeles has additional federal resources to hire the law enforcement professionals we need to keep our streets safe,” said Rep. Waters.

“More cops on the beat means less crime on the street,” said Rep. Cohen.  “Public safety helps ensure our children and communities can grow and prosper in a productive way that will increase living standards in our neighborhoods.  Our police officers risk their lives to protect our families and our neighborhoods.  The Shield Our Streets Act would provide Memphis and other communities across the country struggling with crime the chance to hire more police officers and give them the necessary tools to combat crime and ensure public safety.”   

“During another difficult budget year at home, I want to ensure public safety officials in the district have the resources they need to protect citizens,” said Rep. Johnson.  “I'm proud to stand with law enforcement officers who are on the front lines keeping our community safe.”

“Many of our local law enforcement agencies are strapped for cash because budget constraints have made it difficult to hire and retain police officers” said Rep. Chu.  “As a result, they are struggling to keep our communities well-protected.  This bill addresses that issue by providing access to critical funds that will not only help our local police departments hire and retain more officers, but also invest in public safety programs. We must ensure that law enforcement have all the tools necessary to stop crime and violence and keep our streets safe. Shield our Streets is a step in the right direction for meeting that goal.”

The bill creates two new types of law enforcement funding grants: 

·         Shield Police Hiring Grants, a new category of grants to be implemented by the Attorney General, would provide additional funding to law enforcement agencies that operate in Elevated Need Localities.  An “Elevated Need Locality” is a county (or unit of local government which is not part of a county) which (1) has a crime rate above the national average, and (2) has had budget reductions during the most recent 5-year period.  These law enforcement agencies could apply to the Attorney General to receive funds to hire law enforcement officers, or to rehire officers who have been laid off due to budget reductions. 

·         The Shield Public Safety Enhancement Grants, a new program to be implemented by the Attorney General, provide grants to units of local government that has jurisdiction over all or part of an Elevated Need Locality.  Local governments could apply to the Attorney General to receive funds to enhance public safety in a number of ways, such as purchasing public safety equipment, funding public safety programs, making infrastructure improvements for the purpose of enhancing public safety, purchasing and installing street lights to deter crime, funding activities related to crime labs, and funding public defender programs.  Non-profit organizations operating in Elevated Need Localities may also apply for grants under this program to fund initiatives designed to reduce crime in these jurisdictions.


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