Friday, March 14, 2008

Senate Approves Chambliss Legislation to Restore Critical Law Enforcement Funding

The Senate on Thursday approved by unanimous consent an amendment offered by U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., to the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution that would provide $906 million in federal funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program which helps pay for drug task forces, courts and treatment programs, police salaries, innovative technologies and gang prevention strategies. The program, which members of Georgia’s law enforcement and judicial communities have said is critical to their efforts, was severely cut last year in the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act.

“Our sheriffs, prosecutors, drug court professionals, and many of the other public servants in the law enforcement community rely on these grants to fight gangs, crime and drugs in their jurisdictions, and they’re making their communities safer because of these grants,” said Chambliss, who has led the bipartisan effort to restore the funding since arriving in the Senate. “This program has produced tangible results in Georgia and across the nation. Lives are being saved, more drugs are being confiscated, more bad guys who are manufacturing and distributing drugs are being locked up and put away because of this program. I’m pleased my colleagues in the Senate joined me in supporting this critical legislation on behalf of our law enforcement community who put themselves in harm’s way each day to make sure our communities are safe.”

In Georgia, the Byrne/JAG program has been credited with the following successes:

multi-jurisdictional task forces were able to make 5,600 drug arrests and seize almost $50 million in drugs;

2,500 law enforcement officers were trained in more than 100 different classes offered by the Georgia Public Safety Training Center through its Drug Enforcement Training Program;

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s State Drug Task Force led a cooperative investigation resulting with an inter-state drug enforcement effort with Alabama that received national recognition;

The Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center is Georgia’s Homeland Security state-level fusion intelligence center. The Center expanded its “Southern Shield” initiative and widened the focus for intelligence integration in the region by coordinating with 12 other states within the southeast on intelligence collection and dissemination.

Nine drug court programs were supported as was a Mental Health Court Diversion Program.
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