At Philly COPS Grant Announcement, Support For Attorney General Holder
Several area political leaders were on hand in the Mayor’s Reception Room in City Hall yesterday afternoon to unveil a federal COPS grant to the City of Philadelphia worth $3.125 million, which will partially fund 25 police officers—specifically, post-9/11 military veterans-turned-police—for three years. Those officials, Rep. Bob Brady; Mayor Michael Nutter; Rep. Allyson Schwartz; Rep. Chaka Fattah; and Police Chief Ramsey; were joined by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The grant, worth more than $111 million nationwide, is going into effect for 226 cities across the United States, though it was noted Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles received the most funding.
We previously noted some details of the grants and the significance of Holder coming to Philadelphia at this time. And though the attorney general didn’t take questions after speaking of the program, Reps. Brady and Fattah, as well as Police Chief Ramsey, directly offered their support of the attorney general, who is in the middle of a controversial investigation into the Department of Justice’s role in a government gun running operation which left one Border Patrol agent dead. The operation, dubbed ‘Fast and Furious,’ involved shipping guns over the southern border to Mexico to track drug dealers—but the American guns ended up in the hands of criminals.
The Obama White House issued an executive order blocking some documents from being released last week, and they’ve repeatedly denied any involvement or cover-up in the matter. Republicans have remained skeptical, though. They’ve in fact scheduled a full contempt vote on Holder Thursday (weirdly, the same day the Supreme Court is set to announce their Obamacare ruling), even though they haven’t found any hard evidence against him in the matter and the Bush Administration conducted similar operations for which they were not punished and hardly investigated.
The term ‘Fast and Furious’ was never mentioned by name at yesterday’s presser. But it was fresh on all the officials’ minds.
“The COPS grants give our cities the tools they need to keep our citizens safe. The U.S. Conference of Mayors is in strong support of the COPS program and is a strong partner of the U.S. Dept. of Justice to make public safety in our cities a top priority,” said Nutter, opening the event.
Holder spoke briefly, and praised Sen. Casey, as well as those pols in attendance. Casey was not in attendance.
“He’s served, he’s focused on the important issues, even today,” said Fattah. He later noted he “stand[s] with the Attorney General.”
Ramsey said police chiefs around the country support what Holder is doing, too, even if “others” perhaps do not.
Fattah continued praising the attorney general, and attacked some of his fellow members of Congress while doing so. Fattah thanked “the staff at the Department of Justice for their work,” adding: “We want to make note that this is a program that’s had a lot of controversy—made up controversy from others in the congress—saying we shouldn’t be involved, the federal government in local police enhancements. This is somehow a local responsibility. They didn’t say that when we spent billions on training and hiring police in Iraq.”
Mayor Nutter concluded the press conference, telling the audience Holder had to be back in Washington and would therefore not answer questions.