Cuts In FBI, DEA Personnel Criticized With AM-Crime Bill,Bjt
Apr. 14, 1994
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Cutting FBI and DEA agents make no sense when Congress is debating a crime bill that will pour billions of dollars into local law enforcement, several senators said Thursday.
''I clearly don't understand why there is such an inconsistency,'' said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., in hearings before a Senate Appropriations panel.
FBI Director Louis Freeh and Drug Enforcement Administration chief Thomas Constantine, testifying before the panel, acknowledged that personnel cutbacks have strained their crime-fighting capabilities.
Freeh said the FBI's 1995 budget request of $2.1 billion includes no new program increases and requires cuts of 861 full-time workers, almost all support employees.
He said that with plans to shift 300 headquarters employees to field jobs, there is a staffing problem of ''pretty serious magnitude.''
Constantine said the DEA has lost 415 personnel in the past three years, including 271 agents. The DEA employs 7,000, of whom 3,400 are agents.
He said plans to cut the DEA budget by 3.2 percent in 1995, to about $720 million, come when the battle against drugs is becoming more difficult.
''Not everybody recognizes just how bad it has become,'' he said, noting that a larger teen-age population is on the way and tolerance toward drugs seems to be growing. A single drug organization, the Herrera group operating in New York, made an annual profit three times the size of the DEA's entire worldwide budget, he said.
''Considering what we are doing in the crime bill, our budget for federal law enforcement doesn't make any sense,'' Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, said. ''We are eliminating positions at a time the country is screaming about violent crime.''
Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., told Freeh he was concerned the FBI's foreign counterintelligence efforts are suffering as result of budget constraints. ''If there is that kind of shortening of the sheets, we need to say so.''