By a vote of 342-78, the House passed the COPS Improvements Act (H.R. 1139) this afternoon. Created in 1994, the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) hiring grants program was enormously successful — helping local law enforcement agencies hire more than 117,000 additional police officers in every state from 1995 to 2005 and our nation experienced a significant drop in crime rates. Unfortunately, the GOP-led Congress sharply reduced the funding for COPS hiring grants — reducing them from more than $1 billion a year in the late 1990s to $10 million in FY 2005 and zero funding in FY 2006 and FY 2007. In a first step to restart the program, the Democratic-led Congress included $1 billion in the Recovery Act passed in February.
The COPS Improvements Act passed today puts 50,000 additional police officers on the street over the next 5 years — authorizing $1.25 billion a year for COPS hiring grants. It also authorizes $350 million a year for COPS technology grants, and $200 million a year for hiring community prosecutors.
Rep. Weiner (D-NY), the author of the legislation, responds to inaccurate claims during the floor debate regarding the effectiveness of the program (to read the GAO report Rep. Weiner references, click here):
“The gentleman artfully pulls a line from the report, let me tell you the conclusion. This is the GAO report, for years 1998 through 2000 we estimated the COPS grant expenditures were associated with the decline in index of crimes that ranged from 2,000 to 220,000, about 1/3 of these were violent crimes, 2/3 were property crimes. If you want another report that this has worked, ask the 383 Members of Congress who voted for it last year.”
Rep. Pascrell (D-NJ) speaks in favor of the legislation:
“After September 11, we as a nation, as a Congress made a new commitment to homeland security in protecting our communities. The fact is that for years under the Republican-led Congress, COPS hiring grants were gutted for more than $1 billion a year in the late 1990′s to only $10 million in fiscal year 2005. And then zeroed out, zeroed out – not only do they want to be outgunned, but they want them to be outfunded.”
Rep. Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico) speaks in favor of the legislation:
“As Attorney General of Puerto Rico, I worked alongside the Clinton Administration to secure passage of the legislation that established the COPS program. As someone whose own family has been deeply touched by violent crime, I’m unbending in my belief that the most basic human right that a government owes to its citizens is the right to personal security. The COPS program is rooted in this premise.”
Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) speaks in favor of the legislation:
Rep. Jackson Lee:
“Law enforcement provides for the prevention of crime. That’s why I’m a strong supporter of the Cops on the Beat program and particularly glad that in March, our Attorney General, through the Administration, offered a billion dollars to our police departments across America to ensure that there would be stimulus dollars being used for the COPS grants.”