Many communities are struggling with a rise in violent and drug-related crimes, and a state lawmaker believes helping local law enforcement get more officers on the street could help to address those issues.
State Representative Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) is looking for ways to boost the state’s Law Enforcement Officer Grants program from its current $2 million to $16 million. The fund is intended to help put additional beat officers on the street, although the New Berlin Republican also wants to let agencies add specialty officers as well – such as drug task force positions.
Sanfelippo’s proposal would also lift caps on the program, which currently limits applications to cities with a population above 25,000. He wants to open it to all communities, including local sheriff’s departments. “We looked at this grant program and thought, you know, why don’t we open this up and make it more available so that local municipalities and counties can take advantage of it,” he said.
The expansion would not require any new state revenue. Instead, Sanfelippo wants to move the money from other state programs which may not be as high of a priority, such as some local tourism grants, programs to inform the public about the dangers of smoking, or money set aside to boost the state’s walleye population. He asked, “Do we need to continue to fund these same programs, even though some of them may have met their intended goals, or can we reprioritize this money and put it into public safety, where we clearly have an issue?”
Sanfelippo says he hopes to introduce the bill later this session.