U.S. Senator Herb Kohl worked to include $3.95 billion for federal and state law enforcement programs as part of the economic stimulus bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee today. Kohl is a member of the Appropriations committee, the sponsor of the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) Improvement Act of 2009, and has a longtime record of supporting the Byrne Justice Assistance Program. The $3.95 billion approved by the Committee today includes:
$1 billion for the COPS Universal Hiring program
$1.5 billion for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program
$440 million for Byrne competitive grant program
$300 million for VAWA programs
"Few government programs can claim such a direct connection to job creation as the COPS Hiring Program. This funding will put more people in this country to work. In addition to reducing crime, this investment can serve as a direct injection of money into the American economy," Kohl said.
Kohl noted that these successful crime prevention programs also save taxpayers from the costs associated with incarceration and victim assistance. For that reason, a report by the Brookings Institution found "COPS to be one of the most cost-effective options available for fighting crime."
Created as part of the 1994 Crime Bill, the COPS program has funded more than 100,000 community police officers across the country. Many experts cite this program as an important factor in driving down crime for eight consecutive years in the 1990s. Beginning in 2001, however, the Bush Administration proposed cuts to the COPS program in each of its budget requests; despite bipartisan efforts in Congress to prevent those cuts, the Administration succeeded in eliminating the hiring portion of the program by 2005.
Kohl is the sponsor of legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), to re-establish Congress's commitment to local law enforcement by establishing the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services as a distinct office within the Department of Justice and will re-authorize hiring programs for three specific purposes -- general community policing, local counter-terrorism officers, and school resource officers. The bill also reauthorizes funds for technology grants, community prosecutors, and makes critical improvements to ensure efficient grant management and to eliminate waste.
Kohl has also been a leading proponent in the Senate of the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program, which pays for state and local drug task forces, community crime prevention programs, substance abuse treatment programs, prosecution initiatives, and many other local crime control programs.
The measure as approved by the Committee is now eligible for consideration on the Senate floor.