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Letter to Chairwoman Mikulski and Ranking Member Shelby - Funding and Jobs

U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) is leading a Senate effort to provide at least $215 million in funding for the federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program to help communities hire local police officers. Lautenberg was joined by 13 Senate colleagues in asking Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairwoman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to allocate funding for the COPS program in the final version of the 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill. The letter comes in the wake of the Newtown shooting and the President's request for Congress to put 15,000 new law enforcement officers on the beat.

"Following the horrific massacre in Newtown, Connecticut and other recent mass shootings, the President delivered recommendations to reduce gun violence in America. In calling on Congress to help communities keep 15,000 cops on the street, the President recognized that a significant step we can take to reduce gun violence is to keep police officers on the job. The COPS hiring program has been shown to help reduce violent crime, and we owe it to our communities to do everything we can to help slow the scourge of gun violence that has devastated so many," the Senators wrote.

The COPS Hiring grant program provides federal resources so that law enforcement agencies can hire officers. Across the country, the program has put more than 123,000 police officers on the beat since its creation in 1994. New Jersey has received nearly $450 million since the program's inception, which has funded more than 5,000 officers.

House Republicans slashed funding for the COPS Hiring program to $40 million in the House-passed version of the Fiscal Year 2013 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. Sen. Lautenberg is working to maintain funding in the final bill at no less than the $215 million funding level approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senator Lautenberg was joined by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Coons (D-DE), Carl Levin (D-MI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John D. Rockefeller, IV (D-WV), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Richard Durbin (D-IL).

February 14, 2013

Dear Chairwoman Mikulski and Ranking Member Shelby:

In light of the President's request for Congress to put 15,000 law enforcement officers on the street following the tragedy in Newtown, we are writing to request that the legislation that funds the Department of Justice for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 provide funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) hiring grants at the highest possible level, and at no less than the $215 million level included in the Senate Appropriations Committee-reported bill. The House of Representative's version of the bill included only $40 million for this program, which would severely shortchange this vital program.

Following the horrific massacre in Newtown, Connecticut and other recent mass shootings, the President delivered recommendations to reduce gun violence in America. In calling on Congress to help communities keep 15,000 cops on the street, the President recognized that a significant step we can take to reduce gun violence is to keep police officers on the job. The COPS hiring program has been shown to help reduce violent crime, and we owe it to our communities to do everything we can to help slow the scourge of gun violence that has devastated so many.

The Department of Justice's COPS hiring program has been effective in reducing gun violence and increasing safety in our communities. Since its creation in 1994, the COPS program has put more than 123,000 community officers on the beat. When officers walk the streets, they establish partnerships with the community which in turn gives them greater ability to solve local crime problems. Officers on the ground in local communities also facilitate collaboration with parents, teachers, and other community members to keep at-risk youth from slipping into vicious crime cycles.

Recent gun violence tragedies in Newtown and throughout the country have underscored the need to put more officers on the beat, and we therefore ask that the final FY 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill support the President's request to increase law enforcement officers by including as much funding as possible for the COPS hiring program.

We are supported in this request by law enforcement organizations from across the nation, including the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Fraternal Order of Police, International Union of Police Associations, Major County Sheriffs' Association, National Narcotics Officers Association Coalition, and National Troopers Coalition. This request is also supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to continuing to work with you on these important issues during the FY 2013 appropriations process.

Sincerely,


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