by Max Brantley
LITTLE ROCK— The Department of Finance and Administration is distributing $9.6 million in Arkansas Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to criminal-justice programs throughout Arkansas. The funding will come through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistant Grant, better known as the JAG program. The JAG program is the primary source of federal criminal-justice funding for state and local jurisdictions, and typically receives about $3 million in funding every year for Arkansas programs.
Statewide projects are receiving $5.7 million in funding, including $3.5 million going toward a new Arkansas State Police helicopter. Unlike the current 13-year-old ASP helicopter, the new aircraft will be equipped with a hoist capable of deploying rescuers into remote areas not accessible by other means. The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory is purchasing new equipment with JAG funds to improve the efficiency of processing forensic evidence, and the Arkansas Department of Information Systems will expand and upgrade the Arkansas Wireless Information Network with its additional grant money.
In addition, $3.9 million will fund local law-enforcement initiatives, including $2.7 million for drug treatment and enforcement programs in 19 communities.
There is another $2.8 million still available for local JAG programs, and DFA staff is reviewing additional plans for its use. More information is available at recovery.arkansas.gov