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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable Kent Conrad, Chairman, Committee on the Budget and the Honorable Jeff Sessions, Ranking Member, Committee on the Budget

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Herb Kohl today led a group of 17 Senators in an effort to include $600 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program as part of the Senate Budget Resolution for FY2012. In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, Kohl noted the success of the COPS program as an investment both in fighting crime and in providing jobs. Kohl is a long-time proponent of the COPS program, which was created as part of the 1994 Crime Bill and helped put more than 120,000 community police officers on the beat. The COPS program is facing deep and debilitating cuts in the House budget proposal.

"The pressing issue for all of us is to rein in spending. We need to be strategic about what we cut and what we save. The COPS program has widespread support among Wisconsin law enforcement for a simple reason: it works. The COPS program has been an effective factor in driving down crime and plugging holes in local law enforcement budgets. Preventing crime not only keeps our neighborhoods safer, it saves taxpayers money that would be lost in the penal system," Kohl said.

Kohl periodically surveys Wisconsin law enforcement agencies for their feedback on how the federal government can most effectively help local efforts to fight crime. Among the findings from the 2010 survey results:

Law Enforcement Agencies' Biggest Concerns: Respondents commonly listed six concerns that plague their agencies. 64.2% cited budget cuts as a primary concern. 63.3% listed inability to hire enough staff to properly function, 56.7% listed equipment purchase and upkeep, 39.4% listed drug abuse in their jurisdictions, 19.3% cited lack of access to grant funding and 14.8% cited lack of officer training programs.

How Federal Funds Would Help Most: It is clear that most law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin need equipment and manpower. 40.4% of respondents need federal funds in order to purchase equipment, while 39.4% would use the funds to hire additional officers. 7.7% are most in need of officer training, another 7.7% need tools to combat drugs, and 4.8% need funding for police-led school programs.

A recent report by the Brookings Institution found that the COPS program is "one of the most cost-effective options available for fighting crime."

"By hiring more officers, we will be better able to combat the crime that harms our economy. Officers walking the beat are able to establish partnerships with the community to solve local problems. They partner with local businesses to address the crime and fear of crime that too often drives businesses from distressed neighborhoods, taking with them economic opportunity. They collaborate with parents, teachers and other community members to keep at-risk youth from slipping into a life of cycling in and out of the prison system," the Senators wrote.

Kohl's funding request is supported by law enforcement organizations representing nearly 500,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement officers across the nation, including the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Fraternal Order of Police, International Union of Police Associations, Major County Chiefs' Association, Major County Sheriffs' Association, National Association of Police Organizations, National Narcotics Officers Association Coalition, National Sheriffs' Association, and National Troopers Coalition.

On the first day of the 112th Congress, Kohl introduced the COPS Improvement Act. Kohl's bill reauthorizes the Department of Justice's community policing grant program. The bill will authorize $500 million per year in Police Hiring Grants, which is enough to hire up to 50,000 officers for general community oriented policing as well as $150 million per year in Community Prosecutor Grants to help local district attorneys hire community prosecutors that are trained to work in neighborhoods to prevent crime, build relationships in the community, and use the authority of the prosecutor's office to improve the quality of life in the area.

Full of the text is below:

The Honorable Kent Conrad
Chairman
Committee on the Budget
U.S. Senate
Washington D.C., 20510

The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Ranking Member
Committee on the Budget
U.S Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Conrad and Ranking Member Sessions:

We write to express our support for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program, and request that you fund it at $600 million in the FY 2012 Senate Budget Resolution, the amount requested in the President's budget. We understand that you face tough decisions as you work to cut spending and impose fiscal transparency. Please keep in mind that during this time of economic distress and job loss, the COPS program will immediately put people to work with the added benefit of helping to make our communities safer.

The COPS program has put more than 120,000 community police officers on the beat since 1995. Experts cite this program as an important factor in driving down crime for eight consecutive years in the 1990s. As state and local budget shortfalls lead to officer lay-offs and law enforcement fatalities rise, fewer officers are walking the beat and federal support of this program is more critical than ever.

By hiring more officers, we will be better able to combat the crime that harms our economy. Officers walking the beat are able to establish partnerships with the community to solve local problems. They partner with local businesses to address the crime and fear of crime that too often drives businesses from distressed neighborhoods, taking with them economic opportunity. They collaborate with parents, teachers and other community members to keep at-risk youth from slipping into a life of cycling in and out of the prison system. Preventing crime from occurring in the first place saves taxpayers the costs associated with incarceration and victims services. For these reasons, a recent report by the Brookings Institution found that the COPS program is "one of the most cost-effective options available for fighting crime."

We are supported in this request by law enforcement organizations representing nearly 500,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement officers across the nation, including the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Fraternal Order of Police, International Union of Police Associations, Major County Chiefs' Association, Major County Sheriffs' Association, National Association of Police Organizations, National Narcotics Officers Association Coalition, National Sheriffs' Association, and National Troopers Coalition.
It is clear that by making a commitment to the COPS hiring program in the Budget Resolution, we will continue to help our communities reap the benefits of lower crime rates and safer communities. Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to working with you on these important issues during the FY 2012 budget request.

Sincerely,

Herb Kohl Dianne Feinstein
Patrick Leahy
John Kerry
John D. Rockefeller IV
Ron Wyden
Tim Johnson
Mary L. Landrieu
Charles E. Schumer
Frank R. Lautenberg
Robert Menendez
Amy Klobuchar
Jeff Merkley
Kirsten E. Gillibrand
Al Franken Christopher Coons
Richard Blumenthal
Robert P. Casey, Jr.


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