TRENTON – New Jersey Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee Chair Annette Quijano expressed concern about potential cuts to federal aid programs that affect public safety.
A 12-member congressional panel has been tasked with cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the federal budget, and several programs, including Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), could be eliminated entirely. The funding New Jersey receives from COPS has led to the hiring of 4,900 police officers at law enforcement agencies throughout the state, according to Quijano.
“Not only are local first responders the most important people in a disaster situation, they are in short supply because of recent cuts to municipal aid from the state,” stated Quijano (D-Union). “Eliminating the aid we get through the federal government would put additional strain on the system.”
Most of the aid from COPS goes to municipalities that struggle with a combination of high crime and insufficient municipal tax bases.
“I understand that tough decisions need to be made, but the complete elimination of COPS grants along with the state’s budgetary constraints would put some municipalities in a difficult situation,” continued Quijano (D-Union). “If cuts absolutely must be made, then I would urge the budget panel to consider restructuring the program so that aid only goes to the neediest communities. New Jersey cannot do without the assistance of the federal government when it comes to public safety.”
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