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Reno backs direct federal funding to cities.

Says 'Communities Know Best What They Need'

Attorney General Janet Reno announced support for direct federal assistance for local anti-drug, anti-crime efforts last week, during a meeting with NLC representatives.

The agenda focused on four issues: support for direct anti-drug funding for cities and towns; support for the Brady Bill, opposition to a federally mandated Police Officers' Bill of Rights, and the treatment of unpaid real property taxes as unsecured debt in bankruptcy proceedings.

Attending the meeting were NLC First President Mayor Sharpe James of Newark, N.J., NLC Second Vice-President Carolyn Long Banks of Atlanta, Mayor Ilene Lieberman of Lauderhill, Fla., Arkansas League Director Don Zimmerman and NLC Executive Director Don Borut.

Mayor James opened the meeting urging support for direct federal anti-drug assistance. His remarks were met with support in the form of a "Policing and Public Safety" initiative. Although specific details are not yet available, Reno described a program whereby funds would be made available directly to cities, or combinations of cities, on a long term basis to increase the number of police officers involved in community policing, and for

non-policing activities such as technical assistance, training and early intervention and prevention activities. According to Reno, localities need to design programs that best meet the needs of that community. "Communities," said Reno, "know best what they need."

Municipal officials have long expressed concern over their inability to budget for law enforcement needs when the availability of federal funds from year to year is tenuous at best. Under this program, cities would be able to develop comprehensive programs for several years at a time. While the issue of direct funding has been an issue for municipal elected officials for some time, Reno emphasized that along with that flexibility, there must be strict accountability and program evaluation.

James expressed the strong support of NLC for swift passage of the Brady Bill and offered the assistance of NLC membership to ensure final passage and implementation of this important violence reduction measure. Banks covered the over issue of a 1993 anti-drug, anti-crime package.

The meeting also covered NLC opposition to a federally mandated "Police Officers' Bill of Rights." Speaking on that issue, Lieberman and Zimmerman, raised the numerous issues surrounding such a federal mandate including the fact that even after one Congressional hearing on the issue in March 1992, there is no evidence to warrant federal intervention into what is clearly a state and local labor issue.
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Title Annotation:Attorney General Janet Reno
Author:Quist, Janet
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jun 7, 1993
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