NATIONAL NARCOTIC OFFICERS’
2016 Congressional Priorities
1. The Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) is a critical source of support for multijurisdictional task forces. The task force model is a cornerstone of effective law enforcement and enables joint efforts against regional drug trafficking organizations that are connected to larger transnational organized crime and trafficking groups. Byrne JAG funding has been slashed by nearly 40% since FY 2010 and task force efforts have suffered at a time when overdose deaths have skyrocketed and continues to climb to record highs in the United States. Now is the time to strengthen the most important federal assistance program for task forces.
➢ Support $519 million for Byrne JAG formula program in the FY 2017 CJS Appropriations bill.
2. Asset forfeiture is a critically important tool that helps law enforcement break the backs of criminal organizations. It takes proceeds out of the hands of criminal organizations. The “equitable sharing” program ensures that state and local law enforcement agencies can afford to divert personnel and other resources that normally would be focused on addressing day-to-day priorities to support federal task forces working serious crimes including drug trafficking. Federal task force contributions by state and local agencies provide access to data, networks, and relationships that federal agencies alone do not possess.
➢ In the FY 2016 budget agreement and omnibus appropriations bill, Congress rescinded a total of $1.2 billion from the DOJ Asset Forfeiture Fund, resulting in the immediate suspension of equitable sharing payments to state and local agencies. As a result, there are serious potential consequences to law enforcement collaboration against drug trafficking.
➢ Appropriators should avoid any future rescissions to the Asset Forfeiture Fund. The gutting of the federal asset forfeiture program will benefit criminal organizations by allowing them to keep ill-gotten gains, and will directly hurt the ability of law enforcement to conduct investigations into organized crime.
➢ Congress should avoid taking any legislative action that would undermine asset forfeiture, as this would hinder law enforcement collaboration against criminal organizations.
3. The Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS) Program is a trusted cornerstone of law enforcement information sharing in America and is one of the few programs that makes its services and resources available to every local, state and federal law enforcement agency in the United States. RISS services are particularly popular with small agencies that cannot otherwise afford the expense of intelligence sharing, and analytical and investigative support services that RISS provides. Funding cuts in recent years have hurt the ability of RISS centers to support information sharing, criminal intelligence analysis, and deconfliction services.
➢ Support a restoration of funding for RISS to $48.5 million in the FY 2017 CJS Appropriations bill.
4. High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program is essential for effective drug enforcement coordination in America. The results of HIDTA operations and support to law enforcement at all levels are clear. In FY 2014 HIDTAs helped investigate more than 8,200 drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and money laundering organizations (MLOs) and were successful in disrupting or dismantling 2,184 of these organizations. HIDTA-supported initiatives seized drugs with a street value of more than $14.5 billion in FY 2014.
➢ Support $250 million for the HIDTA program in the FY 2017 Office of National Drug Control Policy appropriations in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill.
5. Technology innovations are helping law enforcement become more effective, accurate, and efficient in investigating and solving crimes. License plate readers (LPR), facial recognition, gunshot detection, wiretap, and other technologies are increasingly important in criminal investigations.
➢ Oppose legislative efforts and appropriations amendments that would unduly restrict law enforcement’s ability to use license plate readers (LPR) and other technologies.
6. The “going dark” challenge impacts criminal investigations every day in America. The difficulty of obtaining electronic evidence in motion (court-authorized real-time intercept) and at rest (on a device) means that drug traffickers and other criminals have an easier time planning, executing, and covering up their activities. When a judge signs a search warrant relating to a house, that means law enforcement agents can enter the house. Yet with communications devices from certain companies, a search warrant means nothing.
➢ Congress should act to ensure that all companies providing communications services will promptly and fully respond to requests for information or evidence by law enforcement when appropriate legal process is issued. It should not be easier for law enforcement to get into your bedroom than into your phone.
7. Sentencing reform proposals related to so-called “non-violent” drug offenders have dominated criminal justice policy discussions in Washington, but those discussions have been severely one-sided. Many offenders at the center of these discussions are, in fact, drug trafficking and violent crime recidivists with long criminal histories, whose activities have inflicted gut-wrenching and far-reaching consequences on people and the communities in which they live. Any money saved by lightening up on their punishment will pale in comparison to the money that will be spent at all levels of government to clean up their carnage.
➢ Oppose S. 2123, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act and H.R. 3713, the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 because the core sentencing provisions primarily benefit the most significant drug traffickers instead of the law-abiding public. The more addictive substances you pump into communities, the more you will benefit under these bills.
8. Experiments in legalized and decriminalized marijuana in the states have begun to generate the kind of results NNOAC members anticipated in warning against such policies. In Colorado, there was a 32% increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths in just one year from 2013-2014, and a near doubling of marijuana-related traffic deaths in the state since 2010. The state saw a 38% increase in marijuana-related hospitalizations between 2013 and 2014. Youth marijuana use was 56% higher in Colorado compared to the national average. Clearly these misguided policies do not benefit the public interest.
➢ Oppose any legislative effort to decriminalize or reschedule marijuana.
➢ Oppose any appropriations amendments or other riders that restrict the enforcement of federal drug control laws.