COPS IMPROVEMENTS ACT OF 2007 -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 16, 2007)
* Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1700, the Community Oriented Policing Services, or C.O.P.S., Program Reauthorization Act. The bill authorizes appropriations of more than $1.1 billion for community policing, community prosecutors and crime-fighting technology grants. The original mission of this program was simple: put 100,000 more police officers on the beat for policing programs. The brainchild of the Clinton administration, the C.O.P.S. program brought members from both parties together with the goal of reducing crime.
* The C.O.P.S. program provides grants to local municipalities for crime fighting technologies and for additional community policing and has been proven to reduce crime, especially violent crime. A 2005 study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that the C.O.P.S. program contributed to a 1.3 percent decline in the overall crime rate and a 2.5 percent reduction in the violent crime rate in 8 years.
* But like a patient that stops taking the medication once it starts working, the Bush administration has been taking a step back in law enforcement and homeland security in its effort to gut the program. We must not rest on our laurels and declare, ``Mission Accomplished.'' The President has declared we live in an age of terrorism, and expanding the police force and providing our local and state governments with resources to combat crime and terrorism should remain a priority. But for years, with the backing of the Republican-led Congress, the President has sought to cut or eliminate funding for the program.
* In Fiscal Year 2008, the Bush administration is proposing to cut the C.O.P.S. program by over 94 percent compared to 2007. Congress appropriated $542 million for the program in FY07, and the President is proposing only $32 million for FY08. The yearly program funding once peaked at $1.4 billion dollars per year under the Clinton administration. It has resulted in the hiring of nearly 120,000 police officers and has prevented over 200,000 crimes since its inception. In contrast, the Bush administration's proposal offers zero funding for community based prosecutors, zero funding for crime fighting technologies, and only $4 million for policing and public safety grants.
* Instead of providing funding for more cops on the beat, the President is handing the C.O.P.S. program a bill for funds unspent in previous years. The $32 million budget request, minus the $87 million the Administration is hoping to get back from the C.O.P.S. program, results in negative funding for community policing. Proponents of weakening the program will attempt to explain that the C.O.P.S. program is duplicative, but a review of the Bush administration's FY08 budget request reveals that the administration also is reducing funding for those other programs as well. It makes no sense to eviscerate the successful C.O.P.S. program or roll it into a block grant, particularly when Department of Justice estimates are showing a rise in crime.
* As it seeks to eliminate the C.O.P.S. program, the Bush administration is pursuing a misguided goal. I commend Congressman WEINER (D-NY) for bringing this bill forward today, I strongly support the C.O.P.S. program, and I urge adoption of the legislation.