President Bush in his newest budget proposals continues to attack state and local law enforcement. When President Bush took over from President Clinton the Community Policing Programs (C.O.P.S) had a budget of 1.5 billion dollars. This money was used by police and sheriff's across the nation to fund more police on the streets, drug resistance training in the schools, Cops in the schools programs, prosecution and apprehension of career criminals and many other great programs to keep our families safe. Last year, the budget was stripped down to $500 million. This year President Bush is proposing $32 million for the C.O.P.S. programs. Basically killing the C.O.P.S. program in its entirety.
The proposed President Bush budget also eliminates funding lines for a wide variety of law-enforcement programs: drug courts, prison rape prevention, cannabis eradication, mentally-ill offender programs and more. The money that once went into these programs is being put into one pool and each of these programs will have to compete with each other for the money.
Crime has been on the decrease nationwide for some time now. I and other law enforcement leaders truly believe that it was the efforts of the Clinton administration and the C.O.P.S. programs that made this a reality. It is only a matter of time before these cuts start to bleed. Many of the officers once hired under the C.O.P.S. funding are long gone and the funding was not kept up by the local governments. Santa Fe County once had 3 deputies funded by the federal government. When that funding ended the county did not continue to fund the positions and they were lost. At that time there were 72 deputies in Santa Fe County. When I took over as Sheriff in 2003 the number of funded positions was 69. Only this year did we get back to the 72 deputies we had prior to my administration.
Torrance county had 12 deputies at one time with the assistance of the C.O.P.S. programs. In 2005 the county had to let go of 6 deputies after the C.O.P.S. funding ended. Imagine a county losing half its police force in one day! The State Police had to be asked to come in and assist. Lately the State Police has been so short handed that their ability to assist other agencies is stretched. It is only a matter of time before crime statistics grow in response to lack of adequate law enforcement and criminal justice programs.
What never ceases to amaze me is that the Republicans still campaign and present themselves as the party who believes in good law enforcement yet it is the democrats who have a record of supporting law enforcement and its programs. The Santa Fe New Mexican recently did a story on drug and DWI courts and their effectiveness. For years we have heard of the effectiveness of drug courts. It is one of the most successful programs outside of Law Enforcement and incarceration and it bridges the gap between enforcement and treatment. Yet here is the Bush Budget cutting money for these programs once again.
I urge all Americans to contact your legislators and oppose the decimation of these programs.