Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna and 44 other Attorneys General today sent a letter to leaders in the U.S. Senate and House Appropriations committees, urging them to support federal funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program in the 2013 appropriations bill.
The Attorneys General seek to ensure that Byrne JAG funding is not reduced further. The program has already been cut by almost a third over the past two fiscal years.
"These funds support essential state law-enforcement priorities, including community corrections, prevention and education programs," McKenna said. "In the current award year, over $3.8 million in funding has been allocated to narcotics task forces, $1 million to the Washington State Patrol to support those task forces and $100,000 to services for victims of violent crime.”
Byrne JAG money has played an important role in suppressing the state's clandestine methamphetamine lab problem.
There were nearly 2,000 meth labs in Washington state in 2001. In 2005, AG McKenna's "Operation: Allied Against Meth" task force brought together federal and state law enforcement to combat the problem. Byrne JAG funded multi-jurisdictional drug task forces in the state’s most populous counties. McKenna successfully pushed for creation of a Rural Law Enforcement Pilot Program to perform narcotics interdiction in 13 of the state’s most rural counties. Subsequently, just 237 labs were found in 2007. Deaths resulting from meth use decreased by one-third, while arrests for driving under the drug’s influence dropped by over twenty-five percent. Fewer than 50 labs were found in 2011.
According to the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Washington State received $6.85 million through Byrne JAG in the 2011 fiscal year.
In Congress, our state has a strong ally in Representative Dave Reichert, the former King County Sheriff, who has fought hard to protect the program. In 2006, he offered a successful amendment to increase Byrne-JAG funding by $25 million.That year, $99 million was included to address methamphetamine cleanup. He continues to shore up support for the program this year, gathering signatures from his colleagues for a bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Committee to continue funding for the program.
"I appreciate Congressman Reichert's work to guard this program and hope our entire delegation signs on," McKenna added.