Rep. Pascrell Leads Bipartisan Caucus Urging COPS Funding
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, March 06, 2013, 03:34 PM EST
Co-Chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus continues fight to get more cops on street to reduce gun violence
WASHINGTON – In continuing his fight to gets more cops on the street to reduce gun violence, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) lead a bipartisan caucus in calling for robust funding to the Department of Justice’s COPS Hiring Program (CHP). In a letter to House leadership, Rep. Pascrell, co-chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus, and a bipartisan coalition of 80 colleagues urged for the support of funding for the COPS program as Congress works on a compromise to continue funding of federal government services through the end of the fiscal year. This week, the House Appropriations Committee introduced a Continuing Resolution that includes no additional CHP funding.
"Like all Americans, we were shocked and saddened by the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut this past December, which took the lives of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School," the bipartisan group wrote to Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi. "In order to ensure that resources are available to prevent further gun violence, we urge you to include robust supplemental funding for Department of Justice’s COPS Hiring Program in any deal to extend government funding beyond the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution on March 27th. This Program provides critical resources for the hiring of police officers as well as school resource officers who protect our schools and communities."
The COPS Hiring Program provides funding to address the full-time sworn officer needs of state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies nationwide. CHP grants go directly to law enforcement agencies to hire new and/or rehire career law enforcement officers in an effort to increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts.
The signed letter is available and the text of the letter follows:
March 5, 2013
The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
House Democratic Leader
H-204, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi,
Like all Americans, we were shocked and saddened by the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut this past December, which took the lives of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In order to ensure that resources are available to prevent further gun violence, we urge you to include robust supplemental funding for Department of Justice’s COPS Hiring Program in any deal to extend government funding beyond the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution on March 27th. This Program provides critical resources for the hiring of police officers as well as school resource officers who protect our schools and communities.
While headline grabbing mass shootings have sparked a national conversation about gun violence in this country, everyday gun violence continues to plague on our cities and towns. Because of its frequency and regularity, this violence often goes unreported and ignored by the media. It may surprise Americans to learn that less than 1% of the over 12,000 annual gun murders in this country take place as part of a mass shooting. Clearly, if we are to address the problem of gun violence in our communities, we must focus on these everyday crimes in addition to mass shooting events.
Our communities chiefly rely on law enforcement officers to deter, prevent and investigate gun crimes. Research has shown that increased policing leads to lower levels of violence and crime. Fewer cops on the beat means more crime on our streets, it’s as simple as that. Unfortunately, due to constraints on state and local budgets as a result of the economic crisis, there are over 50,000 fewer police officers on the streets today than in 2008. This undoubtedly hinders our local police departments’ ability to keep our streets safe from gun violence.
Thankfully, the Department of Justice’s COPS Hiring Program gives the federal government the ability to fill this gap and help our communities hire the law enforcement personnel they need to combat gun violence. In the wake of Newtown, we urge you to include additional resources for this Program in any legislation to extend government funding beyond the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution.
The COPS Hiring Program is also able to provide grants to law enforcement agencies for the hiring of additional school resource officers. Especially in the light of the Newtown shooting, municipalities need the ability to conduct safety reviews of schools and hire resources officers should they deem these steps necessary.
It is critical that this Congress do everything in its power to ensure that no community must face what the families of Newtown have had to endure. By providing robust funding for the COPS Hiring Program, we can prevent further tragedies and ensure that the basic right of our citizens to safety and security will not be neglected. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
(Signatories of the letter include Reps. Pascrell, Al Green, Alcee Hastings, Bordallo, Brady, Braley, Brown, Butterfield, Capps, Capuano, Carolyn Maloney, Carolyn McCarthy, Carson, Chris Smith, Chu, Cicilline, Cohen, Courtney, DeFazio, DeLauro, Denny Heck, Deutch, Edwards, Esty, Farr, Fitzpatrick, Frankel, Gary Peters, Grijalva, Grimm, Gutierrez , Hank Johnson, Higgins, Himes, Holt, Jim Costa, Kaptur, Keating, Kildee, Kind, Kuster, Lance, Langevin ,Lee, Lipinski, Lowenthal, Lynch, Markey, Matsui, McCollum, McGovern, McNerney, Meng, Michaud, Mike Thompson, Norton, Pallone, Payne, Peter King, Pierluisi, Quigley, Rangel, Reichert, Richmond, Runyan, Ruppersberger, Schakowsky, Schrader, Schwartz, Shea-Porter, Sherman, Sires, Slaughter, Swalwell, Tim Bishop, Tim Ryan, Tonko, Van Hollen, Walz, Welch, Yarmuth)