Bill to restore police funds awaits Bush's pen
Rep. Nita Lowey is fighting to restore a federal grant program that arms local law enforcement with high-tech crime-fighting tools.
President Bush wants to further slash the Byrne grant in the 2009 budget. In 2007, Westchester and Rockland counties were awarded around $250,000. This year, they only received $60,000.
According to the New Rochelle Police Department, the grant was critical to helping it achieve its lowest crime rate in 40 years. Authorities fear if funding isn't restored, the trend will reverse.
One system allows troopers in the field to access instant information, like criminal rap sheets, and to put out urgent alerts. "This has helped us advance. Without it, we'd be 10 years behind," says Anthony Murphy, of the New Rochelle Police Department.
"Congress cannot accept efforts to dismantle this program," says Lowey. Lawmakers have passed a bill to shore up Byrne grant funding. She hopes Bush will sign the legislation by the end of the month.
New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson says if Bush doesn't sign the bill, property owners will bear the cost."When the federal government withdraws support from essential local services we have two options: cut funding to other programs or raise taxes," he says.