Dear Mr. President:
In advance of your Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget, we write in strong support of robust funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) within the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the programs the office administers on behalf of our nation's law enforcement officers. Additionally, it is imperative the COPS Office remains an independent agency within the DOJ so that it may continue to support community policing efforts that build trust and mutual respect between law enforcement officers and communities.
For over two decades, the COPS Office and its corresponding programs have provided invaluable resources and technical assistance to state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies to advance community policing efforts that have reduced crime and made towns and cities across America safer. These additional resources and assistance have helped implement initiatives to develop and test innovative policing strategies and provide training to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement.
One of the most critical programs the COPS Office oversees is the Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring (COPS Hiring) Program which provides struggling communities with necessary funding to address their personnel needs to protect their citizens. Since its inception, the COPS Hiring program has placed more than 130,000 officers in communities across the United States to advance policing and crime prevention efforts. Ensuring communities have the needed bodies on the street patrolling neighborhoods bolsters their ability to effectively engage with their communities and proactively respond to individual community needs, instead of running from one crime to the next.
The COPS Office is also responsible for implementing legislation to improve the safety of law enforcement officers across our nation. For instance, the COPS Office is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act (Public Law: 114-12). This law establishes a nationwide Blue Alert communications system to help disseminate information on serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty, an officer who is missing in connection with the officer's official duties, or an imminent and credible threat that an individual intends to cause the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer.
Additionally, the COPS Office is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (Public Law: 115-113), which was recently passed into law. This law will help law enforcement agencies create and improve mental health services for law enforcement officers by allowing the COPS Office to make grants available to initiate peer mentoring pilot programs, develop training for mental health providers specific to law enforcement mental health needs, and support law enforcement officers by studying the effectiveness of crisis hotlines and annual mental health checks.
These are just some examples of the responsibilities Congress has tasked the COPS Office with carrying out as a vital component of our nation's homeland security. As the federal government continues to ask local cops to do more, we have a responsibility to ensure they have the necessary tools and resources. That is why we were encouraged by your Administration's FY18 budget request for the COPS Office that included an increase in funding. In your FY19 budget request we hope to again see a strong commitment to the COPS Office because it remains one of the best ways to ensure law enforcement has the resources it needs.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. We look forward to working with your Administration to ensure the COPS Office remains an independent agency within DOJ with robust funding to support community policing efforts across the country.