Dear Representatives Rice and Spanberger,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our support for H.R. 6375, the “COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act,” which will reauthorize the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and all the programs it administers through 2031.
In 1994, Congress established the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and, in the decade that followed, our nation experienced a significant drop in crime rates. A significant component of this success was the nation’s commitment to community-oriented policing, particularly its hiring component which helped get more officers on the beat. This approach was validated by a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of the COPS program which stated: “COPS-funded increases in sworn officers per capita were associated with declines in the rates of total index crimes, violent crimes, and property crime.”
Now, our nation is grappling with an increase in crime, particularly violent crime, and the profession of law enforcement is struggling to hire and retain good officers to keep our communities safe. This legislation affirms our national commitment to the community-oriented policing strategy—which the FOP believes is the most effective way to promote public safety and to enhance the quality of life in a community. By involving the community, the police have more resources available to help with crime prevention. By familiarizing themselves with the members of the community, officers are more likely to obtain valuable information about criminals and their activities, and they are more likely to obtain a reliable evaluation of the needs of citizens and their expectations of the police. The gap between law enforcement and the community has widened, and now is the time to close that gap. The COPS program provides the community with a sense of commitment, reliability, and trust from law enforcement. Without the trust and involvement of the community, our streets and neighborhoods are less safe.
The legislation you have introduced reauthorizes the COPS on the Beat Program and will help direct resources to rural and lower-income jurisdictions by removing the program’s preferential treatment of agencies that can afford a higher match. Further, the bill will codify the independent status of the COPS Office within the U.S. Department of Justice.
On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I thank you both and all of our original cosponsors for working with us to develop this legislation. We look forward to continuing our efforts with you to get this bill to the House floor. If I can provide any additional assistance in support of H.R. 6375, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.