The Department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, enacted as part of the VCCLEA, has exceeded all expectations in its first full year of operation. It did this by awarding grants to State and local law enforcement agencies to put more than 25,000 officers on the streets -- a quarter of the President's six-year goal in only one year's time. The impact has been widespread. More than three out of every four Americans are being, or soon will be, protected by police departments that have been supported by COPS-hired officers. Urban and rural areas alike have received assistance; more than half of all sheriff's departments in the country are COPS-supported.
The COPS hiring grants last for three years, and require that the State or local jurisdiction outline a plan to keep the new officers on the force if Federal grant funds are not continued. It is expected that most communities understand the need to keep the added officers on board and appreciate the infusion of funds from the Federal government to start the process, and that they will move to expand the concept of community policing.
With COPS MORE grants, local agencies were awarded resources to buy equipment such as lap top computers, hire administrative staff, and pay for officer overtime. The result: an increase in police efficiency that in turn meant more officer hours on patrol. Because of efficiencies gained through COPS MORE grants, the equivalent of more than 9,000 officers were added to America's streets.
Encouraging the use of Locality-Based Strategies
Community Oriented Strategies
The OJP focused on developing comprehensive community-based initiatives to concentrate law enforcement resources where they can be most effective in combatting crime, violence, drug abuse, and illegal gang activity. These initiatives work to maximize the impact of existing resources by integrating national, State, and local resources from both the public and private sectors.
Operation Weed and Seed
Operation Weed and Seed currently funds 36 communities at the $750,000 level to implement the Weed and Seed strategy. The goal or strategy of this operation is to "weed out" crime from selected high-crime neighborhoods and then to "seed" the sites with a wide range of crime and drug prevention programs. Another 40 communities are implementing the strategy with one-time grants of $35,000 through the Official Recognition process, a means by which the Federal government can honor and assist communities.
Several Federal agencies have contributed funds and given preference in their discretionary grant programs to Weed and Seed communities and are encouraging State block grant agencies to provide assistance to these sites as well. Seven Weed and Seed sites participate in AmeriCorps, a joint venture between the Department and the Corporation for National and Community Service, and five Weed and Seed sites received funding from the Department and other Federal agencies for participation in a National Performance Review lab.
Expanding upon the underlying strategy of Operation Weed and Seed is an intergovernmental initiative known as Pulling America's Communities Together (PACT). The U.S. Departments of Education, HHS, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Labor, and Justice, as well as the Office of National Drug Control Policy, launched this effort as an outgrowth of the Interdepartmental Task Force on Violence. Through PACT, collaborating Federal government agencies foster and support the development of broad-based, fully coordinated Statewide and local initiatives to secure community safety. The current PACT sites are in Metro Atlanta, Metro Denver, Nebraska, and Washington, D.C.
Through BJA's Comprehensive Communities Program, 16 jurisdictions with high rates of crime and violence--including the four PACT sites--were awarded grants to plan comprehensive strategies to control crime and revitalize neighborhoods, including a core-component of a jurisdiction-wide community policing model. The COPS office provided $9.9 million for this core component.
The National Citizen's Crime Prevention Campaign, funded in part by BJA, is designed to promote safer communities through a variety of crime and drug prevention activities. The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) administers the campaign under a BJA grant. The program includes workshops for national, State, and local technical assistance and training on a variety of topics geared toward the reduction of crime, violence, and substance abuse. The campaign also sponsors public service messages (with an ad placement value of more than $50 million each year) urging adults and children to prevent and reduce violence. In 1995, NCPC worked with the 16 Comprehensive Communities Program sites and the four PACT sites to initiate crime prevention efforts, provide resources, assist in networking, and provide training and technical assistance.
Tribal Courts Project
The Department initiated a Tribal Courts Project, in order to develop and strengthen tribal justice systems in Indian communities through consultation and cooperation with a wide variety of organizations and individuals in tribal, State and Federal law enforcement, prosecution and judicial institutions. The Project has focused on coordinating existing departmental resources and creating new training and technical assistance opportunities for tribal justice systems. Examples of these efforts include:
Controlling the Proliferation of Dangerous Weapons
The National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP), authorized under the VCCLEA, implements the grant provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Act) and the National Child Protection Act of 1993 to assist States in automating and updating their criminal history record systems to prevent the sale of firearms to ineligible purchasers. In 1995, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) awarded approximately $64 million to 44 States under the NCHIP program. In addition, awards totalling $5 million were made to provide direct technical assistance to States and to evaluate the impact of the NCHIP program.
The Department made substantial progress in developing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The Brady Act requires that NICS become effective by November 30, 1998. The FBI is responsible for developing and maintaining NICS and has established the Brady Act Task Group (comprised of State and Federal law enforcement agencies) to make recommendations and establish preliminary requirements for the NICS system.
During 1995, the Brady Act effectively prevented persons subject to Federal or State firearm disabilities from purchasing firearms. Nearly 300,000 firearm-related checks per month were made on FBI files. As of July 1995, these background checks had prevented an estimated 60,000 individuals who are prohibited from possessing handguns under Federal or State law -- including convicted felons, fugitives from justice, and persons subject to certain domestic violence restraining orders -- from purchasing handguns.
In 1995, the Civil Division continued to successfully defend the Brady Act against constitutional challenges in the District and Circuit Courts. The only District Court to render a decision on the Brady Act's constitutionality in 1995 upheld the Act. The Ninth Circuit, the first Court of Appeals to rule on the issue, also upheld the Brady Act, reversing two District Court decisions. Additional appeals are pending in the Second, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits. In a series of cases challenging the constitutionality of the assault weapons ban, the courts agreed with the government's position and upheld the constitutionality of the ban.
In addition to these efforts to implement the Brady Act, the Department aggressively prosecuted violators of the Federal firearms statutes. The U.S. Attorneys focused on individuals with long criminal histories or excessively violent criminal behavior, and those who sell firearms as gun runners. During 1995, over 5,000 defendants were charged with Federal firearms violations. Ninety-five percent of those sentenced during the year were sent to prison. The average sentence of incarceration was 104 months, with 588 defendants sentenced to life or more than 15 years.
Finally, through BJA's Innovative Firearms Program, the Department worked with State and local jurisdictions to develop and implement new or enhanced projects to prevent the possession and use of firearms by juveniles and control illicit firearm trafficking. In 1995, the grantees developed State and local projects related to the new Youth Handgun Safety Act that prohibits the possession of a handgun or ammunition by, or the private transfer of a handgun or ammunition to, a juvenile.
Specialized Law Enforcement Assistance
During the past year the Department has made a special effort to support State and local law enforcement through assistance in training law enforcement agencies, making available to them Department technology and resources, and responding quickly to State and local needs.
A number of Department components provided training to State and local law enforcement agencies in 1995. For example, the USMS trained 192 officers on court security techniques, law enforcement tactics, and basic law enforcement strategy. The USMS also trained 118 State and local officers in fugitive investigation techniques.
The DEA, as part of its assistance to State and local personnel, conducted 143 programs for 32,600 students in its Domestic Training Section in conjunction with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia.
The FBI sponsored 57 Hate Crime Training Conferences for nearly 3,300 law enforcement personnel from 1,100 agencies, and distributed a hate crime training video to each State Uniform Crime Reporting program and requesting law enforcement agencies. In addition, the FBI trained 15,890 students at the FBI Academy, including 1,034 local, State, and international law enforcement officers who graduated from the FBI National Academy Program. More than 4,000 other local officers received training at the Academy in a number of executive, forensic, and other specialized courses.
The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) assisted State, local, and Federal corrections agencies in improving their management, operations, programs, and services. More than 34,500 executives, managers, trainers, and specialists working in adult corrections were trained.
The Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (LECC), under the direction of each U.S. Attorney, brought together Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies, to enhance the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. The LECC sponsored seminars to share experience and expertise, investigation and prosecution techniques, and crime information. Assistance was provided to State and local law enforcement entities, whose budgets often do not provide for in-service training or travel to training sites. LECCs have held training on such topics as homicide, firearms, armed career criminals, street and prison gangs, bomb threats, hate crimes, serial crimes, sexual assault, and terrorism.
Technology and Resources
The Interpol-USNCB State Liaison Division connects the resources of law enforcement agencies from around the world to the more than 18,000 State and local law enforcement agencies within the United States. The investigative information is shared through the USNCB and the State Liaison offices located in each of the 50 States. In 1995, State and local law enforcement agencies handled over 60 percent (approximately 3,100) of the incoming requests from foreign law enforcement agencies for assistance.
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) entered into an unprecedented Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Defense (DOD) to capitalize on DOD technological advances and apply those solutions for the benefit of law enforcement. To further work in this area, NIJ opened four Regional Law Enforcement Technology Centers that are jointly managed with other entities.
The National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center in Rockville, Maryland, provides information on available technology, guidelines/standards for these technologies, and technical assistance in implementing these technologies. The Center compiles and automates information on which manufacturers are producing law enforcement-related products; what equipment law enforcement agencies are using; and which agencies have special equipment or expertise that can be utilized on an as needed basis. This program is expanding under the Technology Information Network (TIN) that will link this Center to the new Regional Centers in Rome, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; Denver, Colorado; El Segundo, California; and the Border Research and Technology Center in San Diego.
The FBI processed over 9,200,000 fingerprint cards and over 7,650,000 pieces of correspondence from the 72,022 users of its services. The processing of fingerprint cards resulted in 3,502,749 identifications being made against existing records. In addition, the Criminal Justice Information Services Division processed almost two million Federal and over 1,800,000 non-Federal applicant fingerprint cards.
An initiative that promotes better coordination amongst the law enforcement community is the Electronic Fingerprint Image Print Server (EFIPS). EFIPS is system for receiving electronic fingerprint submissions at FBI Headquarters and printing those submissions in a standard fingerprint card format. On August 23, 1995, EFIPS became operational. The Boston Police Department transmitted electronic fingerprint images to the FBI as the pilot agency for the EFIPS project. The first images received were for a suspect arrested and charged with armed robbery. Within approximately two hours of receipt of these images, the FBI notified the Boston Police Department that the arrestee's fingerprints matched a set of criminal prints on file and that he had several prior arrests, including one on an assault with intent to kill charge. Several State and Federal law enforcement agencies, and the Joint Automated Booking System, are expected to begin using EFIPS in 1996.
Under an agreement with the State of California's Department of Justice (CAL/DOJ), the INS began providing the fingerprint records of aliens deported through the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP). The CAL/DOJ enters the prints into the automated fingerprint identification system of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS). As a result of this initiative, INS was notified of the arrests of 833 previously deported criminal aliens in California.
The INS expanded the pilot test of its Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC), which provides INS records on suspected alien criminals, to the entire State of Arizona and into the State of Iowa in 1995. The LESC, operated from a location in Burlington, Vermont, handled over 11,800 inquiries from law enforcement agencies and provided INS records on almost 5,300 individuals and over 4,000 criminal records.
Getting Into The Community Quickly
The FBI's Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) provides rapid assistance to incidents of a crisis nature. The CIRG was established in May 1994 to furnish emergency response to terrorist activities, hostage taking, and other critical incidents. The CIRG is staffed with 126 Special Agents and 60 support personnel, comprising eight diverse units that provide operational support and training. Expertise is furnished in cases involving abduction or mysterious disappearance of children; crisis management; hostage negotiations; criminal investigative analysis; special weapons and tactics; and the assessment, selection, and training of FBI undercover employees.
The CIRG provided crisis management assistance to the Oklahoma City bombing investigation by establishing the command post and providing operational guidance for the on-site investigation. The CIRG has also trained 521 FBI Agents and 823 law enforcement officers in crisis management and crisis negotiation. Several regional exercises have been conducted in preparation for the 1996 Olympics to be held in Atlanta.
The CIRG also provided assistance and investigative support in child abduction and serial killer cases. In 1995, they opened 99 new cases, including 42 stranger abductions of children and 36 cases of serial homicides. CIRG personnel were deployed in eight instances to provide on-site assistance to cases of child abduction or serial murder. During 1995, they addressed 30 police training conferences, composed of approximately 2,500 police officers in response to requests for information on child abduction and serial murder.
The Department also provided quick response to community needs through the efforts of the Community Relations Service (CRS). In one example, CRS monitored and assessed community racial tension throughout the O.J. Simpson trial in an effort to prevent community violence and ensure that when the jury was ready to consider and announce its verdict, the community would remain calm and maintain law and order. CRS also monitored protest demonstrations regarding the policing issues raised by the release of the Mark Fuhrman tapes during the trial.
Helping Victims of Crime
Through its Crime Victims Fund, the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) awarded grants to States that paid for services that help victims of crime recover physically and financially from the devastating impact of crime, as well as provided funding to support national scope training and technical assistance. The total fines, penalty assessments, and bond forfeitures collected from convicted Federal defendants since 1985 and deposited in the Crime Victims Fund to support initiatives on behalf of crime victims exceeded the $1 billion mark in 1995.
OVC worked with 30 of the foremost experts and organizations in the victims field to begin development of a National Crime Victims Agenda. This Agenda will assess over a decade of progress made on behalf of crime victims and provide future directions to victim advocates and practitioners in allied professions.
OVC also provides funding for emergency, short-term training and technical assistance in victim assistance to communities coping with incidents that produce multiple victims. Within minutes of the explosion of the Alfred Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City, OVC, through the National Organization for Victim Assistance, responded to a request from the Oklahoma Attorney General for a crisis response team. OVC resources supported a team that provided group debriefings and training for law enforcement, emergency services personnel, and school officials. OVC also provided funding for two follow-up teams in Oklahoma City.
Protecting America's Children
Children are the innocent victims in many crimes: either as the victims or as the misled perpetrators. In 1995, the Department continued to support efforts to develop and test effective intervention strategies and community support programs that address the issues confronting our youth.
The Department continues to support prevention and intervention programs aimed at solving the problems of violence confronting America's youth. Several major Departmental initiatives in 1995 are described below:
Prevention and Drug Demand Reduction Efforts
The Department recognizes that strong prevention and awareness education efforts are key factors in deterring America's youth from relying on drugs and crime as a way of life. The Department's efforts in this area include:
Children as Victims
The Department continues to work to protect children, the youngest and most vulnerable victims of crime. The Solicitor General prevailed in the Supreme Court case (United States v. X-Citement Video, Inc.) finding that the Federal statute imposing criminal sanctions on persons who knowingly distribute, transport, or receive child pornography is consistent with the Constitution. The Supreme Court's ruling significantly furthers the ability of the Department to safeguard America's children against purveyors of child pornography.
In addition to utilizing the interstate child molestation provision of the VCCLEA, the U.S. Attorneys pursued the prosecution of those who harm America's children through the commission of violent acts. In the Western District of Louisiana, two defendants were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a four year-old girl, and a convicted pedophile was sentenced in the Northern District of Mississippi to 38 years and nine months in prison for the abduction of an eight year-old girl.
The Department also established the Morgan P. Hardiman Task Force on Missing and Exploited Children as enacted by Congress. The purpose of the Task Force is to assist State and local governments in the most difficult missing and exploited child cases.
The right of parents to know when a convicted sex offender or child molester moves into their neighborhood was affirmed when the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld "Megan's Law", a statute that requires such offenders to notify the local community and register with the police. The Civil Division, working closely with the State attorney general, filed a brief that proved instrumental in the court's decision to uphold the constitutionality of the statute.
The Department has taken action to protect children from individuals who use computers to share photographic images of minors, as well as identify and recruit children into sexually illicit relationships. "Innocent Images", is an FBI investigation focused on the identification and development of evidence to support the prosecution of individuals using computer telecommunications facilities to receive or distribute child pornography, as well as those who use such technology to recruit minors into illicit sexual relationships. Innovative investigative techniques, as well as the use of undercover agents, resulted in numerous arrests and the recovery of pornographic materials throughout the Nation during August and September 1995.
Child Support Enforcement
The failure to establish effective mechanisms for enforcing child support orders jeopardizes the economic security of the Nation's families, particularly children. It is estimated that $34 million in child support obligations nationally remain uncollected. Part of the effort to protect America's children includes developing effective referral and screening procedures in coordination with State and local child support agencies. The Department has continued its effort to ensure the enforcement of the Child Support Recovery Act (CSRA) by beginning an initiative with HHS to establish and strengthen channels of communication between State agencies and United States Attorney Offices concerning prosecutions under the CSRA. On the enforcement side, the U.S. Attorneys have undertaken the investigation and prosecution of parents who willfully fail to pay support obligations for a child living in another State. Thus far, the U.S. Attorneys have filed criminal charges against 71 individuals and obtained 26 convictions.
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