Friday, February 27, 2009

Stimulus, budget seek to fund 50,000 new police

As reported here, in last year's budget President Bush gutted the Office of Justice Programs, which oversees state and local anticrime grants such as the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. President Obama's stimulus plan and budget provide funding to resurrect those programs, with the aim of hiring 50,000 new police officers. Stacey Barchenger of the Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., reports that "Uncertainty about how it can be spent and strings attached to some portions of the money has police agencies taking different approaches."

The COPS program was created during the Clinton administration. The Obama version is slightly different. It no longer requires "police agencies to pay millions in local dollars to tap federal hiring grants," writes Kevin Johnson of USA Today. "It gives police agencies nearly unfettered access to $1 billion over three years for hiring up to 6,000 officers as many departments face cuts." (Read more)

The White House budget narrative for the Justice Department says, "Supporting the hiring of police nationwide will help states and communities prevent the growth of crime during the economic downturn." Some criminal-justice analysts say more police do not necessarily mean less crime.

Oregon is making preparations for the grant money. State Justice Commission Executive Director Craig Prins said, "The money might be designated to any of a number of specific projects, which could include community corrections, drug courts or drug response and prevention teams." (Read more)

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