Public Safety & Homeland Security
One of our government's most basic responsibilities is to protect the public from threats to our safety, both domestic and foreign. Senator Menendez takes this responsibility very seriously and has worked tirelessly to make our streets safer and our communities more secure. From providing law enforcement with the resources they need to fight crime and the spread of gangs, to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, he is committed to making every effort to protect New Jersey families from the ravages of crime and gangs, as well as the threat of terrorism.
In our state, we are home to the highest population density of any state, the largest seaport on the East Coast, a major international airport, critical chemical plants and a key network of highways, bridges, and tunnels. We know the challenges of protecting our high-profile communities. Since September 11th, those challenges have become even more complex and more critical. Senator Menendez has been a leading voice to strengthen security at our ports, on our mass transit, and around our chemical plants, as well as ensuring homeland security funds are distributed based on the highest risk.
- COPS Funding & Firefighters. Led the fight to increase federal funding for our first responders. Police and firefighters in New Jersey have suffered devastating layoffs, and Senator Menendez is working to make sure they have the resources that they need to keep our communities secure. He is leading the effort to fund the COPS Hiring and Byrne JAG programs, which provide federal funds to local law enforcement. His efforts helped to secure $166 million for the COPS Hiring Program for fiscal year 2012. Under this program, New Jersey police departments received $20.8 million which they used to hire 78 police officers in 2011. In 2012, the COPS Hiring Program provided $9.4 million to New Jersey to help hire another 60 police officers. Since 2009, New Jersey has received $65.4 million in COPS Hiring funding to hire a total of 298 officers. He also led the fight to secure additional funding for the Byrne JAG Program, securing $470 million for the program for fiscal year 2012. In 2012, Senator Menendez and 28 fellow Senators requested $257.1 million for the COPS Hiring Program and $430 million for Byrne JAG Program. The Assistance to Fire Fighters Grant program has provided more than $133 million for New Jersey’s fire departments and since 2005, $74 million has been used to hire or retain frontline firefighters in New Jersey through the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response grant program.
- Combating Gangs. Authored the Fighting Gangs and Empowering Youth Act, comprehensive legislation that would work to cut off the spread of gangs and reduce gang-related crime. The legislation focuses on prevention and economic empowerment to give young people constructive alternatives to joining gangs; community planning and gang policing resources to help communities fight local gangs; and increased criminal penalties to crack down on those who commit violent crimes as part of gangs.
- Locating Missing Persons. Authored legislation to make a federal investment in an effective program that helps law enforcement locate missing persons quickly. The legislation would support the non-profit organization "A Child Is Missing", which generates 1,000 calls every 60 seconds to phone numbers in the immediate area where a missing person was last seen. This system can often be initiated quicker than Amber Alert, which requires a confirmation that the missing person has been abducted.
- Reasonable Gun Control Measures. Led the effort to defeat a 2009 amendment that would have allowed certain states' weak gun laws to trump strong gun laws in states like New Jersey. This amendment would have permitted individuals from states that allow concealed weapons to carry hidden weapons, even in states with prohibitions. He also has championed common sense gun control legislation, cosponsoring bills that restrict high capacity ammunition devices and close the gun show loophole.
- Working to End Texting While Driving. A lead co-sponsor of the ALERT Drivers Act, which would ban texting while operating a moving vehicle nationwide in a manner similar to the nationwide ban on drunk driving. The legislation would require states to bar the sending of text or email messages while operating a car, truck or mass transit vehicle, or else risk losing federal highway funds.
- 9/11 Commission Reforms. Championed and co-sponsored legislation to enact the 9/11 Commission recommendations into law in both the House of Representatives and Senate.
- Port Security. Co-authored and enacted into law in 2007 a provision calling for the federal government to scan all cargo entering U.S. ports by 2012. The 9/11 Commission cited U.S. ports as a major area of weakness in homeland security. Currently working to implement this requirement.
- Risk-Based First Responder Funding. Successfully championed provisions to distribute local federal funding for homeland security based on risk to help ensure high-risk states like New Jersey get their fair share of funding. 9/11 Commission legislation enacted into law in 2007 included provisions addressing this issue.
- First Responder Funding for Southern New Jersey. Led the Congressional effort to include areas of Southern New Jersey close to Philadelphia as part of the region that is eligible to receive homeland security funding for the nation's most at-risk metropolitan areas. Despite the fact that some areas of New Jersey are a stone's throw from Center City Philadelphia, their first responders were being shut out of this funding program. Now, the region is working more cooperatively with Southern New Jersey officials.
- Foreign Investment in the U.S. Authored a provision enacted into law in 2007 that requires the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) to notify U.S. Senators when a foreign investment in their state is under investigation. This issue gained attention in 2006 when a company owned by Dubai purchased commercial operations at major U.S. ports without red flags being raised in the federal government. Senator Menendez was a leading critic of that deal and helped lead the charge to reform the CFIUS review process.
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