Officials Make Pitch for Crime Bill Aid

Hoping to jump-start their applications for federal crime bill funds, Ventura County law enforcement officials flew to Washington on Wednesday to explain their needs to Justice Department officials.

Justice officials met for about 90 minutes with representatives from the Ventura County district attorney's office and Sheriff's Department, the police departments of Oxnard, Santa Paula and Ventura and the city of Simi Valley in the office of Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley), a Gallegly spokesman said.

Andrew Fois, assistant to Atty. Gen. Janet Reno, and Reggie Robinson, a deputy assistant attorney general, explained to Ventura County officials the grants available under the crime bill.

The bill offers money to pay for extra police officers, community policing plans and programs meant to divert youths from drugs and gangs.

"I think it was a positive meeting . . . to allow some direct give and take with the Department of Justice regarding the various grant programs that are involved in the crime bill, and for Ventura County to make its case," Simi Valley Assistant City Manager Mike Sedell said.

Gallegly said the meeting should help plant Ventura County's needs firmly in the minds of the Justice Department officials.

"I doubt that there's any other county in the country that's got a head start on working with Justice quicker than Ventura County has," he said.

Gallegly said the meeting also should guarantee a fair shake in the grant review process for Oxnard, Santa Paula and Ventura, which applied last year for crime-fighting aid.

The Justice Department officials told the group that they expect to award grants in the first round of applications within the next four to six weeks, and to award money on new applications several months later, Sedell said.

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