November 13, 2001

Congress Moving to Cut Assistance for Local Law Enforcement
City and County Budgets, Already Pinched, Face Dramatic Cut in Federal Funding

Washington, DC -- As local governments across the country struggle to cover increased security and public health costs resulting from the September 11th attack, Congress is actually moving to cut federal assistance to local law enforcement. A joint House-Senate conference committee late last week agreed to slash the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program by $122 million this fiscal year, a massive 25 percent cut in a program critical to local public safety efforts.

"As every city in the country takes on greater security responsibilities and increased security costs, Congress is moving in the precise wrong direction, seeking funding cuts for our local police," said New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "This undercuts our efforts to defend the homeland and it is simply unfathomable."

In a joint letter to every member of Congress, the Executive Directors of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of Counties wrote, "At a time when our nation is at war and local law enforcement is leading the home front fight against terrorism, it is absolutely essential that Congress not take away critically needed resources."

The letter urges members to restore full funding of $522 million for the program, instead of approving the $400 million agreed to by the conference committee handling appropriations for the Department of Justice.

The Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Program, run by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, funds:

  • Hiring and training of law enforcement officers;
  • Overtime for law enforcement officers;
  • Purchases of equipment and technology to support local law enforcement;
  • Security measures in and around schools and other local facilities considered special risks;
  • Crime prevention efforts; and
  • Insurance for law enforcement officers.

Under the program, in fiscal year 2001, New York City was eligible for $23.6 million in assistance, Chicago $17.7 million, Los Angeles $14 million, New Orleans $2.3 million, and Boston $2.08 million. More information about the program and a list of funding eligibility by jurisdiction is available at

Gary, Ind. Mayor Scott King, testifying on behalf of the nation's mayors before the House Government Reform Committee today, said more federal-local law enforcement cooperation is needed, not less.

"Federal and local law enforcement must be partners in the defense of our cities," said King. "Reducing funding for local police undermines this partnership at a critical time. It is unconscionable."

This budget cut comes at a time when cities are facing increased costs to fund police overtime, protect urban infrastructure, and improve public safety and awareness. Indeed, since September 11, cities have urged Congress to increase funding to help local law enforcement beef up security. Mayors have met with members of Congress and Tom Ridge, the President's Director of Homeland Security, to press their case for additional funding and information sharing for local law enforcement.

A recent U.S. Conference of Mayors survey estimated that additional security costs for cities will exceed $1.5 billion in the coming year. The survey was conducted prior to the anthrax cases and included mostly small and medium-sized cities.

"Now is not the time to slash the supplies that keep our domestic troops strong as they protect our citizens," said U.S Conference of Mayors Executive Director Tom Cochran.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,200 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

Andy Solomon (202) 861-6766
Lina Garcia (202) 861-6719


©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors