Weiner: More Money For Cops, Anti-Terrorism
According to a recent press release by Congressman Anthony Weiner, President George Bush has signed into law the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Included in the legislation is language authored by Weiner, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, that reauthorizes the Community Oriented Policing Services (C.O.P.S) program and bans the sale of counterfeit police badges.
This will mark the first time since 2000 that the C.O.P.S. program will be reauthorized, according to Weiner. The new and improved program will finally allow New York City to use C.O.P.S. funding to pay for “terrorism cops.”
To date, New York City has been prohibited from using any of the homeland security funding it receives from Washington to pay the salaries of local law enforcement officers.
But these officers are doing what should be federal functions - including guarding against terrorism and collecting intelligence. A provision Weiner inserted into the reauthorization bill will allow the NYPD to use C.O.P.S. funding to pay the salaries of just that type of officer.
The program authorizes over $1 billion per year and will be reauthorized for four years, from 2006-2009, for a total of over $4 billion.
An estimated $280 million will be authorized for New York City alone. With this funding the NYPD will be able to hire an additional 3,640 police officers.
For the first time, police agencies can use these dollars to fund “t-cops” or “terrorism cops”— police officers that specialize in thwarting terrorists. The old program only allowed police departments to hire officers patrolling the beat.
Each local law enforcement office now has additional flexibility to select how they wish to spend the money. Some may chose to fund additional personnel and others may purchase new equipment, such as radios, computers, etc.
Since its inception as part of the 1994 Clinton Crime Bill, the C.O.P.S. program has put 7,404 new police officers on the beat in New York City and over 118,000 cops in more than 12,000 communities nationwide.
C.O.P.S. grants were responsible for reducing crimes by about 200,000 to 225,000 incidents between 1998 and 2000, according to a GAO study. And in 1998, C.O.P.S. grants led to a 13% drop in violent crimes and an 8% decrease in crimes overall.
But Republicans did not reauthorize the program when it expired in 2000, and allowed all funding to dry up.
“More police officers equal less criminals and that is why the C.O.P.S. program works,” said Rep. Weiner. “Now we have improved on the C.O.P.S. program of the 1990’s by allowing New York City to use this money for anti-terror and intelligence operations.”
Ban on Fake Police Badges
Language authored by Weiner that will be signed into law by the President will also close loopholes in federal law that allow for the trafficking of fake police badges. While federal law currently forbids the transfer of counterfeit police badges, there are broad exceptions that allow anyone to purchase a fake badge for “recreational” or “decorative” purposes.
According to a Weiner investigation, fake police badges - including NYPD badges - are widely available for sale on eBay for as little as $10. Many of these badges have been used as a false identification by people who want to gain an advantage by impersonating a police officer.
According to Weiner, the NYPD receives more than 1,200 complaints each year about impersonators using fake badges to commit crimes of to gain some sort of advantage.
In May 2005, federal authorities arrested a Bronx man after discovering 1,300 fake badges in his home, as well as drugs and guns.
Pressure to close the badge loophole has grown since the Halloween attacker, Peter Braunstein, began using police badges he purchased on the Internet to thwart law enforcement agents in the Midwest.
“Criminals will no longer be able to dodge police officers by impersonating law enforcement agents with fake badges,” said Weiner. “Law enforcement officers of all stripes are asking for the government to close these ridiculous loopholes. I am glad the President is taking decisive action on my legislation.”