NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

What "COPS" Auditors Found

April 16, 1999

Federal auditors have identified questionable use of funds in President Clinton's $8 billion Community Oriented Policing Services program. The project was supposed to allocated funds to municipalities to hire an additional 100,000 police. But a number of cities have been using the money to pay for existing police.

A review of the status of 1.3 percent of the 11,300 departments receiving funds showed that:

  • Some 41 percent of the 149 agencies may have been using the money to fund existing positions -- rather than hire new police.
  • Nearly 60 percent of the departments had not developed "a good-faith plan" to keep the new officers hired under the program after the grants expired -- a requirement of the legislation.
  • In 78 percent of the cases studied, auditors could not find proof that officers were being deployed to community policing duties or that agencies had a system in place to track how officers were being used.
  • The report said that the Justice Department's COPS office must redefine what practices constitute community policing -- as well as those that do not.

COPS office administrators complained about the auditors' methodology and some of their conclusions.

Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.), chairman of the House subcommittee on crime, said he had been "skeptical of this program from the very beginning," and announced that he would hold hearings on it in the next month.

Source: Kevin Johnson, "Auditors Track Millions Meant to Put New Officers on the Streets," USA Today, April 16, 1999.


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