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Cities Getting Little Drug War Aid, Mayors Declare

October 27, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Precious little of the $685 million appropriated by Congress last year to wage war on drugs in the nation's cities has reached local law enforcement, treatment or education agencies, the U.S. Conference of Mayors said today.

A survey by the conference showed that bottlenecks in the funding process appear at both the federal and state levels.

"When the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 was debated in Congress, it was in the context of getting help to the cities, to the trenches in the war on drugs," the report said.

"What actually passed the Congress was a bill which provides funds primarily to the states, with the requirement that a good portion be passed through to local jurisdictions," it added.

But according to the report, little money has found its way to the cities in the year since the bill was approved.

$800,000 for Washington

Only one city, for example, Washington, which operates as both a city and a state for federal funding purposes, had actually received any funds for anti-drug enforcement purposes. Washington received $800,000.

Another 14 cities--40% of those responding--said that funding commitments totaling $9.6 million had been made but that the money had not yet been received.

"Local input into setting the statewide strategy only allows for perfunctory input," Los Angeles complained in its response. "It appears evident that Los Angeles will not fare well with the state in determining local priority planning tailored to meet our needs, or in receiving assurance of any funding."

Twenty-one cities, about 60%, said they knew of no funding commitments, with five--San Diego, Miami, New York City, Cincinnati and Cleveland--reporting that the federal government had turned down their applications for portions of the $225 million appropriated for enforcement programs.

Only $399,777 Received

Of the $262 million appropriated for treatment programs, only $3 million has been committed and only $399,777 has been received by localities responding to the survey.

The figures are similar for the "drug-free school and communities" education portion of the appropriation. Although Congress appropriated $200 million, only $3.3 million has been committed and $1 million actually received.

According to the survey, cities estimated that an average of 8% of their police department budgets are spent on the enforcement of drug law violations. Cocaine was the most frequently cited substance involved in drug-related arrests, followed by marijuana and heroin.

Many cities also complained that they were given short shrift in the planning process with state and federal authorities.

Overall, less than half the cities responding to the survey said they were involved in any aspects of the planning for use of the money.

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