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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 6, 1996

Statement by the Press Secretary

President Clinton signed legislation today that provides the $12 million he had requested to help investigate and solve church arson.

"I'm pleased that Congress agreed to my request and provided these vitally needed resources as quickly as it did," the President said. "I am committed to finding the necessary funds to support these efforts."

The $12 million will go to the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), which already has over one hundred agents engaged in full-time investigations of church fires as part of the National Church Arson Task Force.

Normally, ATF funds are provided through the Treasury/Postal Service appropriations bill. At the President's urging, however, Congress provided this special appropriation in the first appropriations bill for fiscal 1997 that they sent to him.

Specifically, the $12 million will help the ATF:

      pay overtime costs for personnel manning command posts and 
     performing the investigations;

      pay costs of: travel to and from arson sites, follow-up 
     investigations, surveillance, the executing of warrants, 
     trial preparation, vehicle rental, and the training of 
     accelerant-detecting canines;

      finance a telephone hotline and pay for rewards for 

      buy Automated Data Processing (ADP) equipment to allow 
     agents to take statements from potential witnesses in many 
     remote locations;

      buy certain portable laboratory equipment to allow on-site 
     analysis of forensic evidence at the fires, thus speeding 
     the process in which evidence must be forwarded long 
     distances to ATF laboratories;
      pay for "agent cashier" funds;  the cashier funds are used 
     to pay miscellaneous costs of investigations.