CAPITOL HILL Saipan — Local law enforcement agencies received a big boost from the U.S. Department of Justice which awarded the Northern Mariana Islands Criminal Justice Planning Agency $1.24 million to be used in various programs among them crime prevention and drug treatment.

Doris S. Chong executive director of the agency told the Journal that the fresh funding which was announced Sept. 9 will be divided among various government agencies or “sub-grantees” based on decisions of the CJPA Supervisory Council.

The council headed by Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan of the Supreme Court of the CNMI will hold its next regular meeting early in 2006 during which appropriations from the $1.24 million grant will be discussed.

“The council will discuss which will get how much. It all depends on the priority of the CNMI ” Chong said.

Council members include CNMI Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Naraja of the CNMI Superior Court; Pam Brown attorney general; Public Safety Commissioner Santiago Tudela; Public Defender Masood Karimipour; and Public School System Commissioner Rita H. Inos.

Chong said she is happy that the Justice Department has awarded the grant. She said the grant was only one of several others pending approval by the federal government. “They [grant applications] almost always get approved ” Chong said.

“We are going to see if we can get some more in 2006 and I would like to get an answer if I can tell the sub-grantees how long their project period can be ” she said.

Among the various government agencies deriving funds from CJPA are the Interagency Financial Crimes and Drug Enforcement Task Force which is composed of representatives from the Criminal Division at the Office of the Attorney General the Customs Division of the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Safety; the Drug Abuse Resistance and Education program; and the White Collar Crime Investigation program under the Office of the Public Auditor.

Other beneficiaries include the Arson Prevention program; Family Court Client Service; Adult Probation program; the Junior Police Officer program; and the Law Enforcement Explorer program which seeks to encourage high school students to become police officers.

Chong said the funding which covers fiscal 2005 was made available through the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant. Chong in her Sept. 20 letter to Gov. Juan N. Babauta said the Byrne JAG program is a continuation of a consolidation of two programs: Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Formula Grant Program (Byrne) and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant.

“As such ” she said “the CJPA will use the JAG funds to continue the programs that were priorities under Byrne and LLEBG namely law enforcement prevention and education treatment and rehabilitation court system information systems and technology improvements.” Chong said the JAG program was meant to allow state and local governments to support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime based on their own local needs and conditions.

She said these funds can be used for local initiatives technical assistance training personnel equipment supplies contractual support and information systems for the programs mentioned. MBJ