WASHINGTON — Citing recent FBI statistics that show a sharp increase in violent crime in many U.S. cities, including Milwaukee, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl today joined Senator Joseph Biden in introducing a bill to provide $1.15 billion to resuscitate the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and hire more than 50,000 new police officers across the country. The legislation also includes funding for the School Resource Officer program, which is aimed at combating violence in schools.
“Year after year, we see a concerted effort by this Administration to end the COPS program and gut funding for juvenile justice and prevention programs. Virtually everyone in the law enforcement community will agree that this has been a major contributing factor to the rise in violent crime. We are not giving our states and localities the help they need,” Kohl said.
“This legislation is an important first step in making the COPS program whole again.”
Between 2002 and 2005 – as a result of cuts in COPS program funding — the Milwaukee Police Department’s forces were reduced by 55 police officers, leaving it with nearly 200 vacancies in a force of 2,000. Years of decreases in funding have led to fewer cops on the beat and increases in violent crime.
Specifically, the legislation would:
- authorize $600 million to hire officers to engage in community policing, counter-terrorism duties, and serve as school resource officers;
- provide $350 million per year for technology grants allowing police agencies to purchase things like lap top computers for patrol cars and crime mapping software;
- provide $200 million per year to help local district attorneys hire community prosecutors; and
- establish the COPS office as the entity within the Department of Justice to carry out these functions in order to eliminate duplication of efforts.
The COPS program, administered through the Department of Justice, was passed into law in 1994. The goal was to place 100,000 new officers on the beat by 2000 — a goal that was realized ahead of time and under budget. Grant programs also include: matching funds for the hiring of new officers; assistance for purchasing new technologies and equipment that result in officers spending more time on the streets; and financing the training of former military personnel for local law enforcement.