Letter Requesting Full Funding of the Community Oriented Policing Services C.O.P.S

Mar 19, 2010

Dear Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member:

As you consider programs that deserve additional resources, we respectfully ask you to fully fund the Community Oriented Policing Services (C.O.P.S) program in the FY2011 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill. 
Crime tends to go up at the worst time – when bad economic times cut into crime prevention.  With our economy in trouble and state and local budget strained, funding for law enforcement is in a precarious position.  A survey by the Police Executive Research Forum last year found that more than a quarter of law enforcement agencies reported implementing a hiring freeze for sworn officers and over half have frozen civilian positions.  However, the same survey found that nearly half of police departments reported increases in certain types of crime which they believe is a result of the economic downturn. 
Congress created the C.O.P.S. program in the 1990s to address increasing crime rates.  The program succeeded in putting over 117,000 more police on the beat.  Former Attorney General John Ashcroft described C.O.P.S. as a “miraculous sort of success.”  And a 2005 GAO study released stated, “…the evidence indicates that COPS contributed to declines in crime above the levels of declines that would have been expected without it.”  Furthermore, it is the most democratic, with a small “D,” anti-crime program Congress ever envisioned because funding is distributed to small communities and large metropolitan cities, such as New York City.  In fact, 82 percent of the funding has gone to cities with 50,000 people or less.
After receiving more than $1 billion each year in the late 1990s, funding for the C.O.P.S. program was cut significantly until the $1 billion for the C.O.P.S. hiring program in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act hired nearly 6,000 police officers.  Last year, approximately 1,400 officers will be hired or retained due to the $298 million the committee provided.    
C.O.P.S enjoys the support of all the nation’s major law enforcement organizations and was reauthorized as part of the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005.  The program has benefited communities large and small across the nation and enjoys strong, bipartisan support.  
We hope you will do everything possible to ensure that this program receives full funding in the FY2011 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill.