NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

COPS Doesn't Cut Violent Crime Rates

July 25, 2001

Some $8.5 billion has been spent on Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) since 1993, but COPS has been ineffective, say Heritage Foundation analysts. Nationally, violent crime has fallen, but the fall began three years before COPS was introduced, and can be accounted for by other factors.

The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis (CDA) examined the effects of COPS grants on violent crime rates in all counties for which complete data were available from 1995 to 1998. The 752 counties represent approximately 143 million people, or 53.8 percent of the average total population of the U.S. Total grants to these counties amounted to $2.267 billion, or 42.6 percent of the grants during the period.

After accounting for socioeconomic factors that might effect crime rates,

  • The researchers found that the per capita amount of COPS hiring and redeployment grants -- the major component of the COPS program -- received by policing authorities in a county did not have a statistically measurable effect in reducing local violent crime rates.
  • By contrast, a per capita increase of $1 in miscellaneous COPS grants, a minor component of the program used to fund specific actions such as targeting domestic violence and gang activities, was associated with a reduction in violent crime of almost 16.2 incidents per 100,000 residents.

Furthermore, a $1 per capita increase in state and local police expenditures reduces violent crime by 1.3 incidents per 100,000 residents. And with every 1 percent increase in civilian labor force participation in a county, violent crime is expected to decrease by 8.8 incidents per 100,000.

Source: David B. Muhlhausen, "Do Community Oriented Policing Services Grants Affect Violent Crime Rates?" CDA Report No. 01-05, May 25, 2001, Center for Data Analysis, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, (202) 546-4400.


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