Senators request JAG grant funding to help fight crime

A group of 39 senators is asking a Senate appropriations subcommittee to retain the Byrne JAG grant funds


By David Lester
The Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA, Wash. — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including Sen. Maria Cantwell, is urging continued federal funding for crime-fighting efforts across the country, including money to fight drug activity in the Yakima Valley.

A group of 39 senators is asking a Senate appropriations subcommittee to retain what is known as the Byrne JAG grant funds, which earmarked more than $93,000 in direct federal funding for the local Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD) task force in fiscal year 2010.

Funding was cut by 17 percent this year.

The senators made their request in a letter Wednesday to the Senate Appropriations Supcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.

Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin, in a statement released with the letter, said the LEAD task force relies on support from the federal government to disrupt and eliminate drug trafficking.

"In these tough economic times, every dollar counts and we make sure to use it wisely to the best of our ability," Irwin's statement said. "We have a long history of good, productive work and we want it to continue."

The LEAD task force is made up of the county, four Valley police departments, the Washington State Patrol, and county Prosecutor Jim Hagarty.

The federal program provided more than $8 million to Washington state and direct grants to local agencies. The letter seeks continued funding in fiscal year 2012, which begins in October.

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