CHICAGO — Times are tough.
Attorney Gen. Eric Holder brought that point home Monday morning as he spoke to a large audience at the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago about the state of law enforcement in the country as departments face budget cuts.
Holder said nearly 12,000 police officers and sheriff’s deputies will be laid off by the end of this year.
“Of course – as cities, states, and counties confront once-in-a-century financial constraints – this has never been more difficult,” said Holder. “Across the country, mayors, sheriffs, and chiefs have been asked – not only to do more with less – but also to make painful budgetary cuts.
Holder, citing a recent economic outlook report conducted by the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Strategies (COPS), said nationwide that law enforcement agencies have almost 30,000 unfilled vacancies–the first-ever national decrease in law enforcement positions.
These challenges are not insurmountable, he continued.
“Block by block, city by city, department by department, the Administration is determined – and I am determined – to help build capacity, to enable our law enforcement partners to make the most of precious resources, and to encourage their most promising and effective public safety efforts,” he said.
Holder also noted that last month COPS Director Bernard Melekian announced more than $240 million in grants, which will support the hiring and retention of more than a thousand officers across the nation.