Biden Effort to Enhance Public Safety Fails on Party Line Vote
In a party line vote, the Republican-led U.S. Congress today rejected an amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution that would have added $1 billion for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to immediately fill pending applications for over 10,000 officers in over 3,000 different jurisdictions across the country. Since 1994, the COPS program has funded 118,000 officers, leading to a 30 percent drop in violent crime.
Funding for the big three Justice Department programs - COPS, Byrne grants, and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant - have declined for four straight years from over $2.2 billion in 2002 to $118 million this year, including the proposed elimination of the COPS hiring program - the only program that assists state and local law enforcement agencies with hiring personnel.
"Local law enforcement is facing a perfect storm. Officer shortages are being reported in cities around the nation, including losses of 3,400 officers in New York, 250 officers in Cleveland, 140 offices Minneapolis, 100 in New Orleans, just to name a few. And, this is happening at a time when the FBI is re-programing it's field agents from fighting violent crime and drug trafficking to counter-terrorism," Biden said.
"Because of the officer shortage, local agencies are being forced to rely on overtime to meet the demand, and they are abandoning preventive crime programs that proved successful. In effect, President Bush is succeeding in undoing the equation we put in place when I wrote the 1994 Crime Bill: more police equals less crime. These cuts are short-sighted, ill-conceived, and I fear they will significantly hurt local law enforcement's ability to fight crime.
"In addition, a local cop will be the one who uncovers a terrorist plot in local communities, and cops are the ones who front-line responders in most communities in dealing with potential terrorist threats. In a time of color-coded alerts, we are asking the men and women of local law enforcement to do more while we are doing much less. That's why these the deep cuts in aid to local law enforcement are strongly opposed by the nation's police chiefs, sheriffs, police officers, mayors and county executives. But the biggest losers are the American people who have come to count on COPS and neighborhood policing to make our streets safe and secure."