NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

"COPS" Program Never Lived Up To Clinton Promises

September 22, 2000

An Urban Institute study conducted for the Justice Department reveals that President Clinton's Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS) -- aimed at putting 100,000 new police officers on the nation's streets by 2000 -- has reached only half that goal, and there are doubts the full goal will ever be reached.

Researcher Jeffrey Roth of the Urban Institute found that:

  • The number of full-time officers hired and retained through COPS could be somewhere in the range of 39,000 to 55,400 by the year 2003.
  • For the $9 billion spent, that would be $162,000 to $231,000 per new officer.
  • While government officials in the COPS office contend that 68,000 officers have been put on the streets so far, there are definitional problems and controversies as to who is counted.
  • One of the program's main problems is retaining the new officers -- and another area of controversy is that new hires often only take the place of retiring officers.

The Justice Department's inspector general raised similar issues in a 1999 audit. The IG said that if officers hired under the COPS federal grants to police departments, sheriffs' offices and other agencies are not retained beyond the conclusion of the grant, "then COPS will have been a short-lived phenomenon rather than helping to launch a lasting change in policing."

Source: Sean Higgins, "Plan for 100,000 New Cops on Beat Still Not Close to Goal After 6 Years," Investor's Business Daily, September 22, 2000.

For Urban Institute study


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