This week, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) joined a bipartisan coalition of 80 colleagues in a letter to House leadership urging the inclusion of increased funding for the Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program to help prevent gun violence.
"In the wake of the recent shootings in Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek and too many other communities, it's critical that law enforcement agencies have the resources they need to prevent gun violence," said Shea-Porter. "The COPS Hiring Program does exactly that, and that is why I'm proud to add my name to this bipartisan letter. I hope that any compromise to continue funding the Federal Government includes supplemental funding for this measure to help keep our communities safe."
The COPS Hiring Program provides funding to address the full-time sworn officer needs of state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies nationwide. According to the Hamilton Project, there are over 50,000 fewer law enforcement officers on the streets today than in 2008 due to the budgetary limitations of state and local governments. This limits the ability of law enforcement agencies to combat gun violence and other crimes. Fortunately, the COPS program provides a mechanism for the Federal Government to address this shortfall by allowing for the hiring of additional officers.
This week, the House plans to vote on a Continuing Resolution that includes no additional funding for the program. In his recommendations to Congress, President Obama called for supplemental $4 billion appropriation for the program.
Full text of the letter is attached.
March 5, 2013
The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
House Democratic Leader
H-204, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi,
Like all Americans, we were shocked and saddened by the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut this past December, which took the lives of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In order to ensure that resources are available to prevent further gun violence, we urge you to include robust supplemental funding for Department of Justice's COPS Hiring Program in any deal to extend government funding beyond the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution on March 27th. This Program provides critical resources for the hiring of police officers as well as school resource officers who protect our schools and communities.
While headline grabbing mass shootings have sparked a national conversation about gun violence in this country, everyday gun violence continues to plague on our cities and towns. Because of its frequency and regularity, this violence often goes unreported and ignored by the media. It may surprise Americans to learn that less than 1% of the over 12,000 annual gun murders in this country take place as part of a mass shooting. Clearly, if we are to address the problem of gun violence in our communities, we must focus on these everyday crimes in addition to mass shooting events.
Our communities chiefly rely on law enforcement officers to deter, prevent and investigate gun crimes. Research has shown that increased policing leads to lower levels of violence and crime. Fewer cops on the beat means more crime on our streets, it's as simple as that. Unfortunately, due to constraints on state and local budgets as a result of the economic crisis, there are over 50,000 fewer police officers on the streets today than in 2008. This undoubtedly hinders our local police departments' ability to keep our streets safe from gun violence.
Thankfully, the Department of Justice's COPS Hiring Program gives the federal government the ability to fill this gap and help our communities hire the law enforcement personnel they need to combat gun violence. In the wake of Newtown, we urge you to include additional resources for this Program in any legislation to extend government funding beyond the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution.
The COPS Hiring Program is also able to provide grants to law enforcement agencies for the hiring of additional school resource officers. Especially in the light of the Newtown shooting, municipalities need the ability to conduct safety reviews of schools and hire resources officers should they deem these steps necessary.
It is critical that this Congress do everything in its power to ensure that no community must face what the families of Newtown have had to endure. By providing robust funding for the COPS Hiring Program, we can prevent further tragedies and ensure that the basic right of our citizens to safety and security will not be neglected. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Member of Congress