Letter to US President from FOP National President Canterbury > ILFOP
22

23 December 2015

The Honorable Barack H. Obama II
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing on behalf of the membership of the Fraternal Order of Police to express our alarm at the $1.2 billion cuts to the Asset Forfeiture Fund (AFF), forcing it to suspend its equitable sharing program for the foreseeable future.

Early last month, Congress passed and you signed a historic two-year budget deal which mapped out the fiscal priorities of the Federal government. In order to pay for the new budget deal, the legislation imposed a permanent rescission to the AFF, which is funded by assets seized from criminals and criminal organizations. These seizures are made by Federal task forces, with the full participation of State and local agencies and, through the equitable sharing program, allows these State and local agencies to recoup some of costs associated with that participation.

This budget deal imposed a cut of $746 million dollars on the AFF–a considerable sum. While a significant blow, the cut did not immediately jeopardize the equitable sharing program. However, the recent omnibus appropriations act–which was negotiated behind closed doors and passed before anyone had the opportunity to read the massive bill–contained an additional rescission of $458 million. This reduction was completely unforeseen by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the law enforcement community and it has completely disrupted the program.

This $1.2 billion cut–made in the pace of a single month–to the AFF has forced the DOJ to temporarily suspend the equitable sharing program. The Department is looking within to find the resources to keep the program operating and will issue a statement and guidance to its State and local partners in the near future.

Mr. President, the FOP has been actively working with your Justice Department to defeat legislative proposals that would hurt law enforcement by ending the equitable sharing program which would only enable criminals and their organizations to better protect their ill-gotten gains. In fact, we were the only law enforcement organization to testify before Congress in support of the equitable sharing program. Other law enforcement organizations were mostly absent from this debate and the FOP faced considerable heat and pressure from both sides of the aisle who do support ending the equitable sharing program. We worked with our allies on Capitol Hill and we will continue to work with the DOJ and other law enforcement stakeholder groups to find some way–any way–to keep this program afloat.

This Congress continues to inflict terrible cuts and reductions to State and local law enforcement agencies, compromising our homeland and hometown security at a time when the threat level is on the rise. Federal task forces, whose success depends on the participation of State and local law enforcement, will begin to collapse as these agencies will no longer be able to contribute manpower and resources to these efforts if there is no way to recover at least a part of the cost of that participation.

We need your help or we risk losing a very effective program that targets sophisticated criminal operations. Our more than 330,000 members are ready to stand with you and fight to restore this program. If there is anything further we can do, please contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in my Washington office. Thank you for you leadership and attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

Chuck Canterbury
National President

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Legislative Committee

Your Legislative Committee

Keith Turney, Chair (Joliet)

Todd Adkisson, (Troopers)

Kevin Farrell, (Cook County)

Kevin Graham, (Chicago)

Tom Lonergan, (Chicago)

Tom McDonagh, (Chicago)

Greg Johnson, (IDOC)

Terry Trueblood(Sec. of State)

David Wickster, (Oak Park)

Chris Southwood, (IL State Lodge President)