Dec 17 2007

Shelby Announces Commerce, Justice and Science Funding for the Wiregrass

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), today announced funding for a number of important projects in the Wiregrass.  The funding is included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 and will soon be voted on in the House of Representatives.  The Senate will consider the bill following approval by the House of Representatives. 

“This legislation includes a number of important projects in Alabama and across the nation,” said Shelby.  “The Senate’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) - $587.233 Million

The bill includes funding to provide the law enforcement agencies the resources to hire new officers, combat the methamphetamine epidemic and upgrade technology and communications equipment.  The following grants will assist state and local law enforcement in their ability to protect and serve their communities.  The following projects were included in the Senate bill:

City of Headland for mobile data terminals- $94,000
City of Troy for mobile data units- $211,500
City of Luverne for police technology upgrades- $117,500
City of Dothan for interoperable communications- $822,500 
COPS Nationwide Hiring Program- $20 million
 
“The COPS grant program aims to implement and enhance community policing,” said Shelby. “COPS funding assists law enforcement agencies across the country to meet an ever-increasing range of challenges.  The $587.233 million in this 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

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:

Troy University for cyber crime prevention and training- $493,500
National Center for Victims of Crime for assistance and services to victims of crime- $470,000
Simon Wiesenthal Center for law enforcement sensitivity training for hate crimes and civil rights abuse investigations- $1.598 Million
A Child is Missing- Alabama to maintain and upgrade technology to assist authorities in locating missing children- $47,000

Methamphetamine Enforcement and Clean-up - $61.187 Million

Nationwide, methamphetamine usage is on the rise.  Its use continues to poison our nation and the drug knows no boundaries of age, gender, class or race.  The production of methamphetamines is particularly detrimental to communities, as the materials used to create the drugs are extremely dangerous.  The following area project was included in the Senate bill:

City of Andalusia Anti-Drug Initiative- $235,000
 
“Our bill includes $61.187 million for state and local law enforcement officials to combat the deadly meth problem,” said Shelby.  “This program helps to target drug hot spots and to safely dispose of hazardous materials at clandestine meth labs.”

The following projects and programs in Alabama are slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008:

Alabama Statewide Mapping and Height Modernization Project - $423,000

The state will use this funding to continue to plan and produce a high resolution and large scale geospatial database of Alabama. 

“Accurate, high resolution Geographic Information System mapping of Alabama will allow state and local agencies to develop better master plans for the area and, more importantly, prepare for emergencies within the state,” said Shelby.  “The project will allow emergency managers and community planners to utilize the most up-to-date maps available when developing evacuation plans, traffic patterns or community development.”

Alabama Drought Research Study - $752,000

This study is developing methods for industry, agriculture, municipalities and other users of surface water to store and access Alabama’s water resources for the best economic benefit.

“While Alabama has been blessed with an abundance of water resources, we have all seen during this summer’s drought that those resources are not unlimited or constant,” said Shelby.  “Many of Alabama’s research universities, led by researchers at UAH and Auburn, are studying a variety of methods and plans that will allow government, industry and farmers the ability to capture and retain water resources when they are abundant to insulate the state from the impacts of catastrophic drought. Considering our current severe drought status, I cannot think of a more appropriate project.”

Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center PREPARE Program - $470,000

The Planned Response Emergency Portal and Accessible Response Environment program (PREPARE) will work to establish, develop and operate a center and system for the interstate and intrastate accumulation, storage, retrieval, analysis and dissemination of vital information relating to crimes, criminals and criminal activity for the justice community.

“The integrated technology the PREPARE program provides will improve police officer response times, safety, and access to court data,” said Shelby.  “The program will also improve the foundation for partner agencies to share information to better track and manage offenders, respond to incidents and support mutual aid organizations at local, state and national levels.

Alabama District Attorney’s Association Drug and Gang Prevention and Prosecution Program - $1.692 Million

The program will seek to more comprehensively attack the growing drug problem in Alabama and its connections to gang activity through coordination between the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Prosecution Services.

“Increased drug use and gang activity represent an alarming trend,” said Shelby.  “By prosecuting gang and drug offenders, this program will deter Alabamians who may be considering joining a gang or participating in drug trafficking.”

Alabama District Attorney’s Association Computer Forensics Laboratory - $752,000

The Alabama District Attorneys Association has developed three regional computer forensics laboratories to investigate and prosecute all forms of computer crimes such as child pornography and solicitation, white collar crime and identity theft.  The labs are also used to search for evidence in many other cases, to educate officers in the preservation of digital evidence and to educate the public on internet safety.

“As technology expands, so do opportunities for criminals,” said Shelby.  “Thousands of crimes are committed over the internet each day.  Our law enforcement officers must have the needed technology to track down and prosecute these offenders.”

Alabama Department of Corrections Electronic Training and Security Tools - $376,000

The Electronic Training and Security Tools (ETAST) project will continue an effort to develop interactive computer-based training for the Alabama Department of Corrections to satisfy requirements for new and recurring training.  The project will also convert paper architecture drawings into electronic images for the development of three-dimensional situational awareness and training for crisis response teams.

“ETAST will enable the Department of Corrections to provide training more efficiently and effectively,” said Shelby.  “This project also will help increase the safety of both officers and inmates at Alabama’s prisons.”

The following nationwide projects and programs are slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008:

Child Sexual Predator Elimination Grant Program - $15.608 Million

The Child Sexual Predator Elimination Grant Program is a new national initiative that will provide grants to state and local governments to track, arrest and prosecute sexual predators.  These grants will enable state and local law enforcement entities to 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 these crimes,” said Shelby.  “We must provide the necessary resources to protect our most vulnerable citizens- children- so they will not fall victim to these despicable acts.  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.”

DNA Initiative and Forensic Sciences Funding - $171.072 Million

$152.272 million for DNA initiative

$18.8 million for Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement 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, with $171.072 million specifically designated for the DNA initiative,” said Shelby.  “Also included is $18.8 million for the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement 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.”

Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) - $130 Million

EPSCoR works with targeted states to help them become more competitive and improve the level of science education.    

“The bill provides EPSCoR with $130 million to assist states, including Alabama, with establishing partnerships with government, higher education and industry that will provide lasting improvements in their research infrastructure,” said Shelby.  “Science is rapidly expanding our understanding of the world around us and will lead to more technology and well paying jobs.  Our students must be armed with a solid science education to succeed later in life.”

Economic Development Administration - $280 Million

The Economic Development Administration works to empower communities recovering from economic distress by assisting them in developing their own revitalization strategies.  Many communities benefiting from EDA assistance have endured economic distress as a result of natural disasters, the closure of military installations and other Federal facilities and the depletion of natural resources.

“The Economic Development Administration provides grants to local governments and non-profit agencies for public works, planning and other projects designed to facilitate economic development,” said Shelby.  “Within these funds, $14.1 million is included for the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.”

JASON Project - $2.209 Million

The JASON Project provides educational and professional development programs geared to engage students in science, math and technology.  Students participating in the JASON Project are given opportunities to participate in authentic, multidisciplinary research directed by leading scientists.  For educators, online professional development courses in science, math and literacy provide them with the tools needed to present these subjects to their students in an engaging manner.

“The bill includes $2.209 million for the JASON Project,” said Shelby.  “These funds will be used to help introduce innovative instructional approaches and improve student and teacher learning outcomes in the fields of math and science in classrooms across the country.”