Bush Slashes Police Grants
When it was signed into law by President Clinton 13 years ago, the Community Oriented Police Services program promised to infuse small-town police departments like Oberlin’s with much needed cash to keep their communities safe. Since taking the reins, however, the Bush administration has drastically cut the program’s funding – most recently by a proposed 94 percent – and caused many police departments to reduce their forces.
According to figures released by the US Department of Justice, COPS has dispersed $11.3 billion through more than 38,000 grants for community policing initiatives since the program’s inception.
Since Bush unveiled his budget proposal earlier this year, many politicians and police advocates have spoken out against the cuts.
Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, who is an advocate of greater COPS funding and who recently introduced a bill to restore much of the program’s funds, said in an interview with the Delaware State News, “As a result of the severe cuts to COPS, many cities and smaller towns are forced to reduce the number of law enforcement officers they have on the street.”
“It’s sad that as we surge into Baghdad, that we are retreating from our cities and towns,” said Biden. “In my opinion, if anyone is going to find a terrorist, it will be local law enforcement — it will be the local cops, patrolling a neighborhood, looking behind the warehouse or shopping mall.”
The bill Senator Biden introduced earlier this year calls for an increase to COPS funding by $600 million per year for six years. Under Biden’s proposal, this money will be used to hire 50,000 officers. Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown has introduced a similar bill in the House.
Oberlin Police Captain Clifton Barnes said the COPS funding cuts have had an impact on Oberlin.
“Unfortunately we don’t qualify for much of the funding anymore,” Barnes said. He went on to say that when COPS was fully funded, Oberlin was able to add an additional police officer with a grant from the program.