2007-03-30 / Community

Weiner Calls For Increased COPS Funding

Congressman Anthony Weiner, a longstanding advocate for increasing C.O.P.S. (Community Oriented Policing Services) funding, has introduced legislation that would put 50,000 more police officers on our nation's streets, including 3,500 new cops to fight crime and terrorism in New York City. The legislation comes as violent crime is on the rise nationwide, according to a recent law enforcement association study and new FBI statistics.

Under the Weiner bill, the NYPD and police agencies across the country can also use C.O.P.S. funds on "terrorism cops" - police officers that specialize in thwarting terrorists. This new flexibility is especially needed as law enforcement agencies have been taking on anti-terror duties on top of crime fighting and community policing responsibilities.

Specifically, the Weiner legislation would:

+ Authorize $600 million to hire officers to engage in community policing, counter-terrorism duties, and serve as school resource officers;

+ Provide $350 million per year for technology grants allowing police agencies to purchase things like lap top computers for patrol cars and crime mapping software; and

+ Provide $200 million per year to help local district attorneys hire community prosecutors.

"The C.O.P.S program is a proven winner, cutting crime and making neighborhoods safe in New York City, the Tri-State area, and across the nation," said Weiner. "More cops on the streets means less violent crimes and greater vigilance - it just makes sense."

Created in 1994 to put more police officers on the streets, the C.O.P.S. program has been enormously successful. Nationally, C.O.P.S has provided $9 billion to hire 117,000 police officers.

According to a General Accounting Office (GAO) study, between 1998 and 2000, C.O.P.S. grants were responsible for reducing crimes by about 200,000 to 225,000 crimes - one third of which were violent. In 1998, C.O.P.S. grants were responsible for an 8% decrease in crimes - and a 13% drop in violent crimes.

Yet, Congress eliminated the program last year and, at the same time, violent crime has spiked across the nation.

Earlier this month, the Police Executive Research Forum, a prominent law enforcement association, released a report which found that violent crimes rose by double digit percentages over the last two years. Among the cities surveyed since 2005, 71% had an increase in homicides, 80% saw robberies rise and 67% reported an increase in aggravated assaults with guns.

The study is backed by FBI statistics released last December which show that crime is growing in the United States for the first time since the early 1990s. During the first six months of 2006, homicides, assaults and other violent offenses grew by 4%, and robberies, which are often interpreted as a precursor to more serious crime, jumped by 10% nationwide.

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