Oregon Delegation Urges DOJ to Release Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funding

Oregon Delegation Urges DOJ to Release Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funding

Washington, D.C. – Following the threat by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to withhold Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) funding to the state of Oregon and Multnomah County, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), and Kurt Schrader (OR-05), today urged the DOJ to distribute the funds for the current fiscal year as soon as possible.

The Byrne JAG program pays for community policing initiatives, drug treatment and mental health programs, indigent defense, and proactive crime prevention efforts at the state and local level. The state of Oregon and a number of local jurisdictions were scheduled to receive approximately $3 million in Byrne JAG funding for FY17.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the lawmakers wrote: 

“The Byrne JAG program enables state and local law enforcement to effectively protect the 4.1 million people who call Oregon home. … Threats to withhold these critical funds severely jeopardizes state and local efforts to adequately protect the citizens of Oregon.”

The lawmakers also expressed concern around the motives behind these threats, stating: 

“We are deeply concerned about DOJ’s threats to withhold Byrne JAG funding to the state of Oregon as a means of coercing sanctuary jurisdictions into changing their policies. Thus, this decision may constitute a violation of the federal court order passed down by U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber this September, which blocked the DOJ’s implementation of such harmful and retaliatory tactics nationwide.” 

Attached and below is the full text of the letter.

 

November 17, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Sessions,

We write to urge the Department of Justice (DOJ) to move forward with disbursing Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) funds for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) to the state of Oregon and Multnomah County as soon as possible.

The Byrne JAG program enables state and local law enforcement to effectively protect the 4.1 million people who call Oregon home. These critical federal dollars fund community policing initiatives, drug treatment and mental health programs, indigent defense, and proactive crime prevention efforts. For more than a decade, Byrne JAG funds have supported essential programs to reduce crime and ensure the safety and health of our communities.

Threats to withhold these critical funds severely jeopardizes state and local efforts to adequately protect the citizens of Oregon. The state of Oregon and a number of local jurisdictions were scheduled to receive approximately $3 million in Byrne JAG funding for FY17.

We are deeply concerned about DOJ’s threats to withhold Byrne JAG funding to the state of Oregon as a means of coercing sanctuary jurisdictions into changing their policies. Thus, this decision may constitute a violation of the federal court order passed down by U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber this September, which blocked the DOJ’s implementation of such harmful and retaliatory tactics nationwide. Furthermore, the decision to withhold funding undermines your department’s stated objective of curbing violent crime by crippling every level of state and local law enforcement. In delaying the disbursement of Byrne JAG funds, the DOJ is directly imperiling American families.

We urge you to release the aforementioned funds to the state of Oregon and its municipalities as soon as possible and hope to work cooperatively with your agency to properly serve and protect all of our communities in the future. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,