Dear Senators Graham and Klobuchar,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our support for S. 1530, the “COPS on the Beat Grant Program Parity Act.”
In 1994, Congress established the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and made community-oriented policing the keystone of our nation’s approach to policing. The COPS hiring program—which helps local agencies get more cops on the beat—has been the key to the program’s success.
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 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 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. The bill allows these overlooked communities greater flexibility to use COPS grants to raise law enforcement salaries to help retain good officers and improve recruitment efforts. 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 367,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I thank you both for your leadership on this issue. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington office.