Division of Criminal Justice Services

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Contact: John Caher or Janine Kava, Press Office
(518) 457-8415 / (518) 457-8828

For immediate release: February 26, 2008


Statement from Commissioner Denise E. O’Donnell on the 20th anniversary of the murder of New York City Police Officer Edward R. Byrne

Twenty years ago today, a rookie New York City Police Officer named Edward R. Byrne was executed in South Jamaica, Queens while guarding the home of a witness. The murder prompted a national outrage and led to, among, other things, the establishment of the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.

In 2005-2006 alone, Byrne JAG projects had the following impact on the state:

  • An additional 231,102 convicted offender samples were collected and an additional 176,488 were analyzed for the DNA Databank. As of January 4, 2008, the state's DNA databank has found 4,042 'hits' in which the forensic DNA evidence from crime scenes was matched with offender profiles.
  • Regional and local drug enforcement task forces made 2,929 arrests and seized over $7,164,082 in assets.
  • Almost 16,230 students from kindergarten through high school received drug education and prevention, gang awareness and education, or anti-violence prevention training.
  • More than 290 parolees participated in programs providing substance abuse treatment, case management, employment training and placement, mental health counseling, family assistance and other services.

It is sadly ironic that on 20th anniversary of Officer Byrne’s death the federal government is planning to gut the Byrne program, cutting the funding by a devastating 67 percent and costing New York State $17 million in criminal justice funding. Gutting this program at any time is penny-wise and pound-foolish, and doing so at the very time that we mark the 20th anniversary of Officer Byrne’s death adds insult to injury. It is vital that Congress restore this funding in a supplemental budget bill.