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Coming together to keep the streets safe

Governments at all levels must work in cooperation


Hoosiers have the right to live in peace. Yet, too many of our friends and neighbors are living in fear. My staff and I have been speaking with law enforcement and community leaders in communities across the state, including Fort Wayne, to discuss violent crime, heroin and meth use, and prescription drug abuse. What we have heard more than anything else is that we will have to work together at the city, state and federal levels to make things better.

As your U.S. senator, I want you to know I am willing to partner with others in any collaborative effort to make our communities safer. More specifically, I am currently working and will continue to work on leveraging federal resources to benefit state and local crime-fighting and prevention efforts.

There are ways we can all work together to reduce crime. Currently, I’m working on providing resources to assist law enforcement in acquiring the tools and personnel they need to keep our communities safe, funding grants for community coalitions to put together long-term strategies to address violent crime, and supporting programs to fight the drug use and abuse epidemics.

Listening to our community leaders and law enforcement, it is clear that our police officers need more resources to fight crime and help address the conditions that lead to violence. I have also heard repeatedly about the need to collaborate and find long-term solutions. That is why I support the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, which is a pilot program that provides research and implementation grants to community coalitions consisting of law enforcement, residents, school districts, housing authorities and other community groups to develop long-term plans for addressing crime.

To help fight the drug epidemic from the federal level, I recently introduced legislation with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, to develop best practices for prescribing pain medication and related pain management, provide law enforcement with tools to fight heroin use, and establish a national awareness campaign to highlight the dangerous link between prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction.

I am also supportive of programs such as the Drug Free Communities Program, which focuses on youth substance abuse prevention; Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts, which provide alternatives to traditional sentencing procedures for certain non-violent drug offenders; and anti-methamphetamine initiatives.

To help in the effort to combat methamphetamine production, sales and use, I support the COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program, which provides funding directly to state law enforcement to investigate illicit activities related to the manufacturing and distribution of meth. I also support funding that allows the Drug Enforcement Administration to assist state and local law enforcement with cleanup of hazardous meth labs.

I also understand that federal grant applications can be complicated, which is why I am dedicated to helping navigate the time-consuming federal grant application process.

Later this year, I will host a seminar to walk participants through grant opportunities available to law enforcement and community groups, best practices for preparing an application, and other tips.

I believe every Hoosier has the right to live in peace with the opportunities to take care of his or her family and retire with dignity. Working together to leverage our local, state and federal resources, I am hopeful we can achieve this goal.

Joe Donnelly is a Democratic U.S. senator. He wrote this for Indiana newspapers.