Connecticut Police Forces Still Await Federal Grants

Oct 25, 2017

The Trump administration’s stance on immigration policy is being blamed for holding up federal policing money across the country, including Connecticut.

Last year Connecticut received about $2.6 million through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, known as JAG grants. It’s money that police departments use for things like equipment, training, and personnel.

The U.S. Department of Justice usually disburses the funds in September, but Mike Lawlor, Connecticut’s Undersecretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, said there’s been an unusual and unexplained delay.

“Every single state gets one of these grants, and this year, not a single state has gotten it and we have repeatedly asked the Department of Justice what’s going on,” said Lawlor. “They consistently can’t or won’t answer the question so we don’t know. We assume it’s because they have concerns about sanctuary cities around the country.”

Over the summer, the Justice Department announced it would disqualify so-called sanctuary cities from receiving JAG grants. But that’s been challenged in the courts. Recently a federal judge granted Chicago a preliminary injunction that stopped the DOJ from withholding funds to sanctuary cities.

Lawlor pointed out that Connecticut is not being singled out, in fact, the state is in compliance with federal immigration law.

“The attorney general himself just announced that Connecticut is not violating any federal laws,” he said. “But like a lot of things in Washington, this seems to be disorganized and delayed, and in this particular case the only people that get hurt are local law enforcement who are trying to do their job.”

Some Connecticut towns and cities, including New Haven and Hartford have designated themselves as sanctuary cities, which generally means the police don’t detain suspects on behalf of federal immigration agents.