Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Vice President Biden To Police: "We Owe You. We Owe You Big."

Vice President Joe Biden visited Alexandria, Virginia’s newly built police headquarters to congratulate the department for being awarded a nearly $860,000 grant to its Community Oriented Policing Services (or COPS) program.
Vice President Biden with Alexandria, Virginia Chief of Police, Earl Cook.  Photo/CD Brown.
Vice President Biden highlighted how President Obama’s American Jobs Act would keep first responders like police, fire and emergency personnel on the job.
“We owe you.  We owe you big”, said the Vice President. “We owe you every tool available for you not only to keep the community safe, but to keep you safe.”
The president’s Jobs bill, which he is hoping to pass with the support of Congress, sets aside $5 billion for law enforcement officials to hire new personnel and avoid layouts.
Said Biden, “This award gives you the tools you need.”
Alexandria’s Chief of police Earl Cook knows all too well about losing essential personnel.  Alexandria’s police department suffered a lost nine personnel during the height of the recession.
“We’re still trying to provide the same level of service with less resources”, the chief explained.  “As we try to sustain a lower crime rate it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do that with less resources than we had three years ago.”

“It’s important that officers on the street have what they need, said Sergeant Gwen Diggs, a thirteen year veteran of the force.”
Those ‘resources’ not only include personnel, but vital equipment necessary to do the job such as tasers, radio and other communication devices and also includes an investment to develop and deploy a nationwide, interoperable wireless network for public safety.
The Alexandria police department was one of four cities in Virginia to receive funding.   The City of Norfolk was awarded the most with $1.07 million.  The city of Annapolis received the largest award for the state of Maryland with $926,350, while The District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department  received $1.4 million.  Other police departments across the country were also awarded funds.
Two hundred and forty million dollars was made available for the program.  More than $5 billion in requests were received.   Said Biden, "That’s just an idea of how badly communities around the country are hurting.”
With the newly awarded funds, Alexandria, Virginia’s police chief already has plans for its use. “We plan to recover personnel positions lost in the area of community policing, as well as the department’s Domestic Violence program”, said Cook.

Next month is Domestic Violence awareness month, and  Vice President Biden has been a staunch advocate against domestic violence.
Cook is the city’s first African American chief of police.  He replaced David Baker after Baker resigned following a DUI incident resulting in a car crash in 2009.
The new police headquarters, located at 3600 Wheeler Road, officially opens its doors October 17, 2011.

GOP Opposition  (What Else Is New?)
The administration may not consider its proposed Jobs Bill 'class warfare', but the GOP certainly sees it as a war on the rich, especially since it suggests raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans -  an idea they strongly oppose.
Vice President Biden, quoting President Obama, laid out the plan to yesterday's attendees for finding funding sources for first responders, and other essential personnel. 
Simply make the rich pay their fair share.
Explained Biden, using Wall Street as an example, "The top twenty-five hedge fund managers make $23b, but pay a 15% tax.  Americans pay at 28%.   I don’t get that.  How is that fair?  If hedge fund managers just pay the same rate that the middle class pays, that’s $12b to cover all the cost of law enforcement over the next several years."
“It’s about our police department keeping you and themselves safe. 
Biden said the Obama Administration will fight like crazy to ensure the nation’s police personnel have what they need to do their jobs.
“To me this is a simple deal.  We said we’ve give you what you need,  just by making some stark choices on our value system.
“Its’ just fair.”

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