While raising my family and attending law school, I also worked as a U.S. Capitol Police officer. I still feel a special bond with those who honor the badge by protecting and serving our communities, and I understand the stresses and demands that law enforcement officers face every day. Throughout my time in Congress, I have been working hard at the federal level to provide more resources for our law enforcement community to help them meet the greater demands of homeland security since September 11th, and to make Nevada a better and safer place to live.
Providing the Resources Law Enforcement Needs
Throughout my time in Congress, I have been a strong supporter of our first responders. I have traveled throughout Nevada, speaking with officials from Churchill County to Nye County about public safety. I am acutely aware that first responders sacrifice a great deal to ensure the safety of their fellow citizens and deserve adequate resources and funding for their efforts. Since 2000, I have assisted Nevada’s police, firefighters, and local emergency personnel in securing more than $100 million in additional federal funding.
Reducing crime in our state depends on initiatives like the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and the Edward Byrne Memorial Grants (Byrne JAG) program. These two programs are the main federal funding source for local law enforcement agencies and provide grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to establish anti-drug task forces, hire and train community policing professionals, acquire and deploy crime-fighting technologies, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide community organization with programmatic funding for crime prevention initiatives.
I was pleased to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), which provided $1 billion for the COPS program, and $2 billion for the Byrne JAG program. Additionally, over the last ten years, I have secured more than $100 million for Nevada law enforcement through Congressionally-directed spending, often referred to as “earmarks.” This funding has helped law enforcement purchase equipment, hire additional police officers, increase the capacity to analyze DNA and forensic evidence, and establish interoperability among first responders.
I was also proud to support the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act, President Obama’s proposal that would have provided $5 billion for first responders to help states and local governments rehire police officers and firefighters that have been laid off since the recession began. Unfortunately, in October 2011, the Senate was prevented from considering this legislation. Although a majority of Senators voted to take up this bill, it did not receive the 60 votes needed in the Senate to overcome a filibuster.
Fighting for Homeland Security Funding
The National Nuclear Security Site in Nevada has played a leading role in protecting our nation against 21st Century threats, bolstering non proliferation tools, and helping combat terrorists. Through testing and training programs, thousands of our first responders have learned the skills necessary to be able to rapidly deploy across our nation should a terrorist attack occur. In order to prepare for these emergency situations, I have secured funding for the National Domestic Preparedness Center's (NDPC) disaster preparedness center at the National Nuclear Security Site in Nevada. This critically important center helps facilitate a unified effort and higher level of preparedness between government, business, and the emergency response community. I will continue to fight for this program to help Nevada first responders prepare for terrorist attacks, natural disasters, industrial accidents, and other emergencies.
Protecting Our Children
On July 27, 2006, the 25th anniversary of the tragic abduction and murder of six-year old Adam Walsh, President Bush signed into law the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, of which I was a proud co-sponsor. I worked closely with John Walsh, Adam’s father, to ensure that this important legislation passed the Senate, and I continue to support greater protections for our children. Among its many important provisions, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act established a national sex offender registry to make it easier for local law enforcement to track sex offenders and prevent repeat offenses. The law also authorizes much-needed grants to help local law enforcement agencies establish and integrate sex offender registry systems.
I also strongly supported the Child Abduction Prevention Act which was signed into law in 2003, and elevated the penalty for aggravated child abuse and child torture murders to first degree murder and increased penalties for the abuse and kidnapping of children. This legislation also created and provided funding for a federal AMBER Alert program and reauthorized the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
In 2008, I cosponsored the PROTECT Our Children Act, which became law that same year. This bill helps law enforcement use new technology to track individuals who trade child pornography on the internet. It also created a task force within the Department of Justice and provides resources and training to local and federal law enforcement to help them bring predators to justice.
I believe that as child predators find new ways to exploit children, we must work to adapt our laws to keep pace with the changes in technology and ensure the health and safety of our nation’s greatest asset – our youth. I will continue to use my leadership position in the Senate to enact laws that provide greater protections for our children.
Illegal Drugs and Methamphetamine
I have also supported the creation of task forces throughout our state to seek out and halt the manufacture of methamphetamine. In 2001, I secured funding to create the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program in Southern Nevada that is now being expanded statewide. I am committed to helping drug task forces throughout the state receive the funding they need and will continue supporting legislation that will help combat illicit drug use.
Preventing Gang Violence
I have also worked to provide funding for several anti-gang programs such as the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program, the Restitution Earned Accountability (REAL) program, and the Richard Steele Youth Boxing Club. These programs help discourage young people from joining gangs, and combat gang activity and violence in communities by providing much needed counseling and education for at risk youth.
Law Enforcement Weapons-Carry Bill
That is why I have led a broad Senate effort to pass comprehensive legislation to enhance our nation’s cyber security and give our government the tools it needs to prevent, deter, and respond to cyber attacks. In 2011, I joined the chairmen of seven key committees in introducing the Cyber Security and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2011, which lays out a roadmap to improving our nation’s defenses in cyberspace. Recently, in August and November 2012, I brought similar legislation, the Cyber Security Act of 2012, for a vote in the Senate. Unfortunately, on both occasions, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle decided to place narrow corporate interests above our nation’s security by rejecting this important legislation. I will continue to work my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass comprehensive cyber security legislation in the 113th Congress.
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