Remarks of Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
International Association of Chiefs of Police
State and Provincial Police Division and Mid-Size Cities Section
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thank you, Chief Batiste. I'm so pleased to be here. I was delighted to be able to join S&P at IACP in Orlando, and it's great to be with all of you today.
And I'm very happy that the Deputy Attorney General - my long-time friend, Jim Cole - could join us here. I think this is the first time in his current capacity speaking to an audience primarily of state and local law enforcement. I'll have the pleasure of introducing him in just a few minutes.
Let me also thank President Mark Marshall, Chief Batiste, Chief Douglass, Mike Wagers, and my good and long-time friend Dan Rosenblatt for their leadership at IACP. The issues you're focused on - officer safety, information and intelligence sharing, maximizing resources - are truly the critical issues of the day in law enforcement nationally. These are tough times, and we need strong leaders - and I know we have them at IACP.
I want to congratulate Chief Douglass and the now newly formed Mid-Size Cities Section. I'm very pleased that we could be part of the launch of this important group. As Tom O'Reilly in BJA said yesterday afternoon - this group will surely make things happen just as S&P has for so long. I'm also glad that BJA was able to help provide funding support for this week's meeting. I couldn't be happier - and I know I speak for my colleague, Jim Burch, as well - that we're helping to bring together two such important and influential stakeholders - state and local law enforcement.
And I want to commend all of you in this room for your work at the state and local levels. You're the ones seeing these challenges first-hand, and I want you to know how much we appreciate what you're facing on the front lines. Jim Burch and his staff help keep me informed of the news from your agencies and communities, and I know some of it these days is pretty discouraging. But I offer this assurance: in OJP, we're working hard, every day, to make sure our resources are being used to help you meet your most pressing needs.
As you know, the tough economic times that you've been experiencing have now come to Washington. We're feeling some of the same uncertainty that you've been dealing with. But I don't see this as a time for pessimism. On the contrary, I see it as an opportunity to sharpen our focus on how we can make the most of our relationships and leverage our resources in the smartest possible way.
I'm also proud that, in spite of the lean times, the President remains committed to helping you meet your challenges. In his budget request for next fiscal year, he proposed continuing to fund the Byrne JAG program at the current level, $519 million. In other words, with agency budgets being cut across the federal government, this flagship program of OJP doesn't see a dime in cuts in the President's budget.
As I said in Orlando, a major reason I came back to OJP after having already served as Assistant Attorney General in the 90s was to help restore the Department's connection with state and local law enforcement. I've been working to make this happen, and I'm grateful that you've been meeting us halfway and providing the leadership we need in the field. You've been advancing the ball in information and intelligence sharing and in defining a role for law enforcement in homeland security.
These are, in my view, the defining issues of 21st-century policing - and you're in the forefront. And rest assured, the Attorney General - and the Deputy Attorney General - are behind you in your efforts here.
OJP and IACP are entering a new era of partnership. We've been working to support you in your strategic planning efforts. I know in March, S&P held a planning session that BJA was involved with. I understand you were able to identify some of the critical issues that need to be addressed - like leadership and technology challenges - and begin plotting out a course for the near future.
In fact, one idea I'm told the S&P membership surfaced is the need for assistance in improving analytic capabilities within fusion centers - specifically to improve those capabilities related to "all crime" information. You noted in conversations with Jim that this type of support is critical - not only for states, but also for city and county agencies within states.
I'm pleased to tell you that - pending the outcome of our budget for this year - BJA intends to release a funding solicitation that will allow you to submit applications for a limited number of grants in support of this goal. Although this won't be a huge sum of money, it's an opportunity that we were able to create in response to your needs.
So, in spite of the anxiety - and I know those anxieties are very real - there's every reason to be hopeful because our partnerships are strong. I hope we can continue these cooperative efforts - sharing ideas, planning together, and pooling resources. These are the things that have gotten us through tough times in the past, and I know they're key, as the President says, to "winning the future."
It's my pleasure now to introduce our next speaker.
I met Jim Cole through the American Bar Association back in the 80s - that now seems a long time back! - and I've always been so impressed by his commitment to both public service and strengthening the criminal justice system. At the ABA, he played a leadership role on the Criminal Justice Standards Committee, so he not only believes in a vital system of justice, he works to achieve it.
And Jim is a veteran of the Department of Justice. Beginning back in 1979, he served in DOJ for 13 years, first as a trial attorney in the Criminal Division, then later as Deputy Chief of the Division's Public Integrity Section.
He has a broad range of knowledge and experience, but I think most importantly, he cares about the issues that all of us care about. And like his long-time friend and colleague Eric Holder, he understands the importance of the Department's role in supporting its state and local partners.
I know how busy he is, so it's great that he could make time to be here. I think it's a reflection of the high regard in which IACP is held by the Department of Justice.
Please join me in welcoming the Deputy Attorney General, James M. Cole.
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