NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Downsizing Community Oriented Policing Services

June 27, 2003

In his proposed budget for 2004, President Bush recommended that hiring grants given to the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) be eliminated, as well as reducing overall COPS funding and redirecting that money towards the nation's firefighters, policy, emergency medical technicians and public health officials.

Since its inception in 1993, COPS has been the federal government's most prominent crime-prevention initiative. However, there is little evidence that suggests the COPS program has advanced the community policing movement or fulfilled its intended goals:

  • The program did not meet its goal of placing 100,000 new police officers on the street.
  • According to a Heritage Foundation study, the major components of the COPS program -- its hiring and reorganization grants -- have failed to bring about a statistically significant drop in violent crime rates.
  • Many local law enforcement agencies have used their shares of the $10.6 billion in COPS grants to fund officer salaries, computer technology and clerical support rather than bringing new officers into the system.
  • Of the 40 community policing activities measured by the Heritage study -- covering everything from problem-solving to truancy reduction to code enforcement -- COPS increased the participation rate of only seven.

President Bush is right to recommend budget cuts for the COPS program, in keeping with the Administration's view that federal programs must show concrete results to continue receiving funding, says Heritage.

Source: David B. Muhlhausen, "Why the Bush Administration Is Right on COPS," Backgrounder, No. 1647, April 2003, Heritage Foundation.


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