Jul 21 2010

Shelby Announces Funding for Montgomery Area Commerce, Justice, and Science Projects

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), announced subcommittee approval of the fiscal year 2011 CJS Appropriations bill.  The legislation includes funding for projects in Alabama. Following today’s action by the subcommittee, the bill will now go to the full Appropriations Committee for consideration.

“This legislation is truly the most diverse appropriations bill we have, literally affecting all of the expanses of our planet, and into the outer recesses of the universe,” said Shelby.  “The bill includes funding for critical state and local law enforcement and counterterrorism efforts; oceanic and weather research; trade; standards research; as well as science and space exploration.  The subcommittee’s action on this bill reiterates our commitment to funding these projects and advancing important nationwide initiatives.”
                                                                       
The Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Departments of Commerce (DOC) and Justice (DOJ), among others. 

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) - $586 Million

The bill includes critical funding for the law enforcement community to upgrade technology, including in-car computers, cameras and communications systems. The funding also bolsters forensic capabilities.  This grant will assist state and local law enforcement in their ability to protect and serve their communities. 

“Local law enforcement is vital to adequately responding to crime, gang activity and homeland security,” said Shelby.  “The COPS grant program aims to implement and enhance community policing.  COPS funding assists law enforcement agencies across the country in meeting an ever-increasing range of challenges. The $586 million provided in the bill will allow police and sheriffs’ departments throughout Alabama to take advantage of these grants and increase their enforcement efforts to become more efficient and effective.”    

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program - $520 Million

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG) provides funding for law enforcement to implement programs that prevent and control crime based on their own needs.  The following area projects were included in the Senate bill:

  • Alabama Department of Forensics - $3 Million
  • Computer Forensics Institute and Lab at Troy University - $600,000

“In many of my 67 county visits this year, district attorneys and law enforcement officers expressed the importance of the Byrne grants,” said Shelby. “This reiterates my strong belief that the individuals serving on the front lines of our communities each day know best what their departments need to successfully do their jobs.  Providing funds directly to our law enforcement officers allow them to control crime based on their own needs and is one of the best ways we can support our crime fighters.”

Computer Forensic, Victim Restitution, and Drug Prevention Initiatives – $4.3 Million

This funding will provide assistance to the Alabama District Attorneys Association to combat three growing criminal trends. First, funding will assist in the continuation of the computer forensics lab program which was created to address all forms of computer crime such as: child pornography, fraud, and identity theft. Currently, the Alabama District Attorneys are the only law enforcement agency handling, exclusively, computer crime cases from investigation to prosecution. The computer labs utilize working relationships with federal, state, and local agencies across the nation. The labs have made a tremendous impact on computer crime and are enabling local and state law enforcement personnel to utilize yet another tool in the prosecution of criminal activity. Second, the extremely successful Zerometh campaign will be continued throughout the state. Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive and violent drug that has found its way throughout the nation with a particularly large impact on Alabama’s small towns and rural areas. The Zerometh program disseminates information to expose meth and its deadly consequences to teens and young adults. The goal is to stop a potential first-time user from ever trying the drug, while encouraging everyone to look for the warning signs and support treatment. Finally, funding will be used to implement the Victim Restitution Recovery Initiative. This program provides critical support to victims through enforcement of restitution payments from an offender to the victim of crimes.

“Alabama’s District Attorneys are working tirelessly to target drug hot spots and combat other crimes such as child pornography, fraud, and identity theft,” said Shelby. “The funding for the Alabama District Attorneys will help ensure that our law enforcement officers have the resources necessary to keep our communities safe and free of drugs.”

Operation Swordphish – Alabama Department of Public Safety - $3 Million

Last year there were approximately 6,900 known cybercrimes committed in Alabama which were not prosecuted because they did not meet the federal threshold. Many of these crimes were a result of phishing, the act of attempting to fraudulently acquire personal information such as passwords and credit card details by assuming another's identity in an official-looking electronic communication. Operation Swordphish is a joint effort between the Alabama Department of Public Safety, UAB, and the Alabama District Attorneys Association to gather information, analyze, investigate, and prosecute financial cyber crimes and electronic mail based cyber crimes in Alabama and beyond. Operation Swordphish will also work with state and local government and industry to detect network vulnerabilities and address them. The goal of this project is to become a model for cooperative efforts to combat financial crime across the country.

“Each year, consumers and their financial institutions lose billions of dollars to criminals running phishing and cyber fraud operations both in the United States and abroad,” said Shelby.  “Operation Swordphish is a great example of combining the knowledge within our educational institutions and the capabilities of the law enforcement community to address a global problem."

The following programs in Alabama are slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2011:

Bulletproof Vest Program - $30 Million

This program helps local jurisdictions purchase armor vests for use by law enforcement officers.

“Each day our state and local law enforcement officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities,” said Shelby.  “Regardless of a community’s financial status, we must ensure that our law enforcement officers have the equipment necessary to protect themselves.  This funding will make certain that our law enforcement officers are protected while they are on the front lines of local communities protecting our citizens.”

Drug Courts - $45 Million

Drug courts provide a specialized process within the existing judicial system to address non-violent drug related cases.   Their mission is to stop the abuse of drugs and alcohol along with the related criminal activity.  Drug courts can help with prison overcrowding by keeping convicted offenders from entering the system as well as reducing the revolving door of crimes and drugs by providing treatment to drug-addicted criminal offenders.

“Our nation’s drug courts are instrumental in the effort to remove drug-addicted criminal offenders from our streets and out of our communities,” said Shelby. 

DNA Initiative and Forensic Sciences Funding - $181 Million

  • $151 Million for Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Initiative
  • $30 Million for Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Grants

Our nation’s forensic labs have a critical need to reduce backlogs in all areas, particularly in DNA.  This funding will help meet that need while providing the flexibility required for the men and women in the labs to determine their own priorities.

“Significant funding for forensic sciences as a whole is included in our bill,” said Shelby.  “Also included is $30 million for the Paul Coverdell Forensics Grants. State and local forensics labs use Coverdell grants to address a variety of needs within the forensic sciences, including DNA analysis.  The bill provides significant flexibility to allow state lab directors to use Coverdell dollars to address the pressing needs of their individual labs and make important decisions regarding the best use of federal resources, including DNA backlog reduction.”

FBI Mortgage Fraud – $71.5 Million

This funding will support the FBI’s request for 50 additional agents for mortgage fraud investigations and reinforce the Bureau’s white-collar crime investigative capabilities.
 
“Increasing the FBI’s resources to investigate and prosecute financial crimes will help ensure that financial criminals are caught and brought to justice,” said Shelby. “I believe this is a critical step toward restoring trust in our financial markets.”

Adam Walsh Child Protection Funding

  • $38 million for U.S. Attorneys to carry out the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act concerning the prosecution of offenses relating to the sexual exploitation of children.
  • $61 million for U.S. Marshals Adam Walsh enforcement activities, to hire Deputy Marshals to track down sexual predators, and to help establish the National Sex Offender Targeting Center which improves the information technology backbone and reinforce the U.S. Marshal Services’ infrastructure so Deputy Marshals have timely, accurate investigative information to track down and arrest those who prey on our nation’s children.

“Child predators who live in our neighborhoods, work in our schools, and lurk on playgrounds across this country are every bit as dangerous to the American way of life as any terrorist,” said Shelby.  “Our U.S. Marshals must have the funding necessary to effectively hunt them down and bring them to justice.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation Innocent Images Program - $53 Million

These funds will provide enhanced capabilities for the Innocent Images Internet Crimes Against Children program and the Innocence Lost program which focus on the transportation of children for prostitution and other crimes. 

“I have repeatedly said that if someone was able to buy heroin over the internet with their credit card, people would be appalled,” said Shelby.  “The acts of child pornography and child prostitution are much worse and we must do everything we can to stop these horrendous actions.”

Innocence Lost Initiative - $26.1 Million 

This effort by the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children combines the efforts of these entities to address the growing problem of domestic sex trafficking of children in the United States. These efforts have rescued over 575 children and led to the conviction of more than 300 associated with this horrible industry.  This funding will be used to hire additional agents for this initiative.

“Sex trafficking of children is one of the most horrific industries I can imagine,” said Shelby.  “Our law enforcement agencies must have the tools and resources necessary to successfully rescue any child that is abducted for this terrible crime.”

Missing and Exploited Children Programs - $100 Million

“Crimes against children are a plague on our society and we must continue to work to eradicate them.  Continued investment of substantial resources in these programs is critical to ensure the safety of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens - children.”

Child Sexual Predator Elimination Grant Program - $18 Million

Child Sexual Predator Elimination Grant Program is a new national initiative that will provide grants to state and local governments to locate, arrest, and prosecute sexual predators.  These grants, distributed by National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, will enable state and local law enforcement entities to specifically focus on sexual predators who fail to register, sex offenders who prey upon children, and those who engage in child sexual exploitation.  

“It is our obligation to protect our children against child sexual exploitation,” said Shelby.  “We must provide the necessary resources to protect our most vulnerable citizens – children - so they will not fall victim to this despicable act.  I have long supported efforts to protect our children and strongly believe that this funding will go a long way to aid in the eradication of these horrible crimes.”