June 11, 2004 – The U.S. Justice Department has awarded the Law Enforcement Planning Commission $2.6 million through three federal funding programs.
The award does not differ significantly from similar grants in previous years, according to LEPC officials. The breakdown by programs is:
– $622,000 to local agencies through the Crime Victims Assistant Program funded under the federal Victims of Crime Act.
– $632,000 for local programming funded under the Stop Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program.
– $1,358,175 for local programs funded through the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program.
Maria Brady, LEPC director of victim witnesses, said on Wednesday that the $622,000, for local victim assistant programs, represents an increase of $1,000 over last year's amount. She said the grant money was divided among six programs last year and that local not-for-profit agencies have until July 15 to submit proposals for shares of this year's grant.
According to Brady, the Stop Violence Against Women program was designed to encourage the development and implementation of effective, victim-centered law enforcement, prosecution and court strategies to address violent crimes against women. She said most of the federal funds are for law enforcement and prosecutorial and victim assistance agencies.
LEPC grant administrator Meredith Neilsen said the Bryne Memorial funding is about the same as what the territory received last year. This money goes to programs that offer a high probability of improving the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, with emphasis on controlling violent and drug-related crimes, he said, placing priority on multi-jurisdictional programs.
One local program that has been funded by this grant is the Safe Streets Task Force, which involves FBI and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officers working with V.I. agencies to solve "cold" crimes — those still unsolved after a lengthy period of time.
The Bryne program has been around since the mid '80s, according to Neilsen, but recently its focus began shifting away from law enforcement to prevention and treatment. Last year 12 local prevention programs and four treatment programs were funded, along with about a half a dozen law-enforcement programs. But, he said, although the law-enforcement programs were lower in number, the funds going to them were significantly higher.
Last year about $240,000 was used to buy surveillance cameras. The grant also funded community policing for two high-crime areas. Each area, one on St. Croix and one on St. Thomas, received $360,000.
Neilsen also said that local funding from another federal source, the Law Enforcement Block Grant, was once $1.2 million but is going to be less than half of that this year — and eventually may be phased out. Funding from this grant in previous years was used to buy most of the police vehicles on the islands, he said.
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