President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. today followed the stimulus money to Columbus, Ohio, where they were guests at the Columbus Police Graduation Exercises. The trip was meant to highlight $2 billion in Recovery Act funding for state and local law enforcement through Edward Byrne Justice Assistance grants, and Columbus offered a compelling narrative: In January, 25 recruits were told that they would be let go, for lack of funding; all 25 were sworn-in today.
“This funding is key to helping our states and local governments fight crime and keep our streets safe,” Holder said in a statement. “The Department of Justice is moving ahead of schedule to allocate these resources so we can retain police officers, enhance law enforcement capabilities, and ensure that we have the tools and equipment necessary to build safer communities.”
The grants can be used for various purposes, such as hiring law enforcement officers; shoring up drug and gang task forces; funding crime prevention and domestic violence programs; and supporting courts, corrections, treatment, and justice information sharing initiatives. The Justice Department has a breakdown of the JAG allocations here.
In all, the Recovery Act includes $4 billion for state, local, and tribal law enforcement and for other criminal justice activities. The trip comes a day after the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a major fraud bill that would provide a two-year $490 million funding package for additional FBI agents and staff; prosecutors; and investigators and analysts at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Office of the Inspector General for the Housing and Urban Development.