After a concerted bipartisan effort that began months ago, U.S. Reps. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) successfully saved local law enforcement resources from the chopping block earlier this evening. By a vote of 298-121, the House reversed course and passed legislation funding the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. The bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Justice for Fiscal Year 2012, which includes a total of $198.5 million for COPS; $166 million of which will be made available for municipal police departments to apply for competitive grants to hire or rehire police officers.
"I am proud to report that the collective voice of the law enforcement community and their advocates in Congress was heard," said Reichert. "The men and women who patrol and protect our neighborhoods are vital to maintaining public safety and this bill will ensure that many of them can continue to serve our communities. Understandably, my colleagues and I in the House are evaluating the effectiveness of every federal program in our effort to reduce the deficit. Reversing the decision to eliminate the COPS office proves that public safety is a national priority and an important investment. I was motivated in this effort by the firsthand knowledge that COPS plays an important role in protecting our businesses, homes, and families. I am grateful to Congressman Pascrell, the Law Enforcement Caucus, and all of the concerned citizens who joined me in standing up to preserve needed resources that keep us safe."
"I am greatly heartened that common sense prevailed over petty politics with the passage of this legislation that includes funding to help communities keep police on the streets," said Pascrell, a member of the House Budget Committee. "This has been a battle we have been fighting all year. But with the help of my strong partnership with Congressman Reichert, and the support of the bipartisan Law Enforcement Caucus, the House and Senate have come together to support the police departments that protect our communities and families. I'm proud of what we've accomplished. But rest assured that if the need ever arises, we'll fight this fight over and over again. Fewer police means more crime, and the safety of our communities must never be compromised."
Congressmen Reichert and Pascrell, co-chairs of the bipartisan Law Enforcement Caucus, have worked together throughout the year to save the COPS office from elimination. In July, the lawmakers rallied their colleagues against the House Appropriations legislation that did not fund the COPS office at all. On November 2, Reichert and Pascrell recommitted themselves to defending local law enforcement jobs in a letter to the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee, ahead of their conference to reconcile the relevant funding bill with the Senate.
A report released last month by the U.S Department of Justice's COPS office revealed that that nearly 12,000 law enforcement officers will lose their jobs this year alone. Another 30,000 positions remain unfilled, and 2011 could produce the first national decline in law enforcement officer positions in the last 25 years.