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Monday, June 10, 2013

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS): Background and Funding

Nathan James
Analyst in Crime Policy

The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program was created by Title I of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322). The mission of the COPS program is to advance community policing in all jurisdictions across the United States. The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162) reauthorized the COPS program through FY2009 and changed it from a multi-grant program to a single-grant program.

Between FY1995 and FY1996, the annual appropriation for the COPS program averaged more than $1.4 billion. The relatively high levels of funding during this time period were largely the result of Congress’s and the Clinton Administration’s efforts to place 100,000 new law enforcement officers on the street. Appropriations for the program started to wane in FY2002 before increasing again for the four-year period between FY2007 and FY2010. Congress started to reduce funding for the COPS program as it moved away from providing funding for hiring new law enforcement officers and changed COPS into a conduit for providing federal assistance to support local law enforcement agencies. Starting in FY1998, an increasing portion of the annual appropriation for COPS was dedicated to programs to help law enforcement agencies purchase new equipment, combat methamphetamine production, upgrade criminal records, and improve forensic sciences. Funding for the COPS program decreased in both FY2011 and FY2012, which can be attributed to reduced funding for the COPS Hiring Program, the congressional earmark ban, and Congress moving appropriations for programs that were traditionally funded under the COPS account to other accounts. Funding for the COPS program did increase slightly in FY2013, even after sequestration. One issue Congress might consider is whether the federal government should continue to provide grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to hire additional officers at a time of historically low crime rates.

Date of Report: May 14, 2013
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: RL33308
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