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Pascrell, Reichert Send Letter to President Calling for Increased COPS Funding

Last week, Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Dave Reichert (R-WA), co-chairs of the bipartisan House Law Enforcement Caucus, sent a letter to President Trump outlining the importance of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), especially its hiring program. Reps. Reichert and Pascrell urged the Administration to put their full support behind COPS and the programs it supports. 

"Supporting community policing is a key catalyst to keeping our communities safe. With tight local budgets, it becomes critical for the federal government to provide support to make sure our police departments are staffed at appropriate levels," said Rep. Pascrell. "Given some of the new President's remarks about prioritizing safety, I expect his budget to fully support community policing efforts by the COPS office and the grant programs the office supports."

"I know firsthand how important community policing is to reducing crime, keeping officers safe, and building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve," said Rep. Reichert. "Today members of law enforcement around the country are being asked to take on more while facing widespread staffing shortages. Our local law enforcement are our first line of defense, the first to respond to acts of domestic terrorism. We must support the men and women who risk their lives daily to keep our communities and our families safe.  There is no greater way to do this than through strong support of the COPS Office and community policing." 

The full contents of the joint letter to the President is below: 

Dear President Trump:

As Co-Chairs of the bipartisan House Law Enforcement Caucus, we write in strong support of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) and the programs the office administers on behalf of our nation’s law enforcement officers. With tensions between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve on the rise, we are concerned by any legislative or budget proposals that would jeopardize the work of the COPS Office. Now, more than ever, it is essential to support community policing efforts that build trust and mutual respect between law enforcement officers and communities.

For over two decades, the COPS Office has provided critical resources to state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies to advance community policing efforts that have reduced crime and made towns and cities across America safer. These resources have helped implement initiatives to develop and test innovative policing strategies and provide training to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement. 

One of the most critical programs the COPS Office oversees is the COPS Hiring competitive grants program, which provides struggling communities with necessary funding to address their personnel needs. Since its inception, the COPS Hiring Program has placed approximately 129,000 officers in communities across the United States to advance policing and crime prevention efforts. These are critical bodies on the street patrolling neighborhoods, as well as school resource officers in our nation’s classrooms to help keep our children safe. Staffing challenges not only jeopardize the safety of our men and women in uniform, but also exacerbate the breakdown in trust between law enforcement and community. Police departments must have the staff necessary to effectively engage with their communities and proactively respond to their needs, instead of running from one crime to the next.

In fact, the study The Effects of COPS Office Funding on Sworn Force Levels, Crimes, and Arrests, completed by researchers from the University of Chicago, Duke University, and Cornell University, found that federal investment in local policing through the COPS Hiring Program led to a reduction in crime without a corresponding increase in arrests. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of community policing in reducing crimes while not exacerbating our nation’s incarceration rates and the strain on local economies.

The COPS Hiring Program is a modest investment with huge returns for our communities, but it is much more than that.  The COPS Office is vital to our nation’s homeland security.  Local law enforcement officers are our first line of defense - they are the first to respond to acts of domestic terrorism and they are increasingly tasked with additional duties in the national interest like drug enforcement and gang elimination efforts.  As the federal government calls upon local cops to do more, we have a responsibility to ensure they have the tools and resources necessary to carry out their critical mission to protect the homeland. 

The COPS Office is also responsible for implementing the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act (Public Law No: 114-12), a law we authored in response to targeted attacks on law enforcement. This law establishes a nationwide Blue Alert communications system, modeled after Amber Alerts, to help disseminate information on the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty, an officer who is missing in connection with the officer's official duties, or an imminent and credible threat that an individual intends to cause the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer. The sharing of this information will help law enforcement officers more quickly identify and apprehend violent criminals and prevent further loss of life. We plan to continue to engage with the COPS Office to ensure that this law is implemented expeditiously to help ensure the safety of our police officers when they are in the line of duty.

Unwavering support for the COPS Office is one of the best ways we can work together to support our law enforcement community. The Law Enforcement Caucus looks forward to working with your Administration to improve community policing efforts across the country to keep our neighborhoods safe.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA)
Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)

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