Sens. Booker, Menendez Push for Renewed COPS Funding
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) today joined Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) in leading the charge for a minimum of $247 million in federal funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program to help local jurisdictions hire police officers. The Senate Appropriations Committee will be considering funding allocations for the 2015 Commerce, Justice and Science bill in the coming months.
“Budget constraints have forced many municipalities to either reduce hiring or lay off public safety officers,” they wrote in a letter signed by 34 Senators to the Senate Appropriations Committee leadership. “The COPS Hiring program represents a fiscally responsible solution to ensure that our communities remain safe.”
More than 125,000 officers have been hired across the country using COPS funding since the program was created in 1994, and the program has helped 13,000 of the nation’s 18,000 jurisdictions with over $14 billion in total funding. Despite stricter application requirements, due to the program’s overwhelming popularity, 1,718 jurisdictions requested over $974 million in COPS Hiring funding in FY2013. Ultimately the COPS Hiring Office funded 955 law enforcement positions in FY 2013, including $5 million to help New Jersey communities hire 29 officers.
“In addition to hiring more officers, the COPS Hiring Program offers innovative programs to enhance the effectiveness of community policing,” the Senators continued. “The COPS Office provides training and technical assistance to educate law enforcement officers on community policing best practices. COPS Hiring also provides grants for local agencies to replace obsolete technology, enabling them to efficiently and effectively investigate, respond to, and prevent crime.”
The Senators’ request has received the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and other law enforcement groups. In addition, it is supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The Senators wrote: “Ongoing crime and violence in our cities continue to demonstrate the vital need for increased police protection in our communities. Therefore, as you determine the funding levels for this program, we ask that you support funding for the COPS Hiring Program at the highest possible level.