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WebMemo #211 on Crime

February 19, 2003

Why the Bush Administration is Right on the Office of CommunityOriented Policing Services


The Bush Administration's budget for fiscal year 2004 recommends major changes at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Among the Administration's proposals is the elimination of the FY 2004 hiring grants that are administered by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).[i] This is the second year in a row that the Administration has made the request.[ii]

Congress should support the President's recommendation regarding COPS funding because it is supported by well-founded observations.

  • The COPS program did not significantly advance the community policing movement, which began several years before the creation of COPS.
  • The COPS program misused taxpayer dollars by producing a self-serving evaluation of its effectiveness and presenting the study as independent research.
  • The COPS program did not measured up to its goal adding 100,000 additional officers to the street as promised.
  • The COPS program failed to be an effective crime-reduction policy.

In a letter introducing the Administration's FY 2004 budget, President Bush wrote that "We will continue to focus on getting results from federal spending.A federal program's measure of success is not its size, but the value it delivers…If federal programs cannot show results, they should be overhauled, or retired."[iii]

The use of performance measures is vital to the Administration's efforts to determine which federal programs are successful and which are not. Despite a sizeable monetary investment of over $10 billion in funding,[iv] thorough and independent evaluations of the COPS program found that it failed to achieve its primary goals of placing an additional 100,000 officers on the streets[v] and reducing crime.[vi]

In 2001, the Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis conducted an independent analysis of the COPS program's effectiveness.[vii] After accounting for yearly state and local law enforcement expenditures and other socioeconomic factors, the analysis found that COPS grants both for the hiring of additional police officers and for redeployment (MORE, grants) had no statistically significant effect on reducing the rates of violent crime. The Administration's budget recommendation to cut funding for this ineffective program is consistent with its goal of funding only those federal programs that pass the evaluation test recommended by President Bush. Further, COPS provides functions at the federal level that rightfully lie within the jurisdiction of states and localities.

[i] Budget of the United States Government: Fiscal Year 2004, Appendix (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2002), p. 650, at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2004/pdf/appendix/JUS.pdf. (February 4, 2003).

[ii] Budget of the United States Government: Fiscal Year 2003, Appendix (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2002), p. 644.

[iii] Budget of the U.S. Government: Fiscal Year 2004 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2002), p. 2.

[iv] The $10 billion figure was obtained by summing appropriations designated for the office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the fiscal year 1993 Police Hiring Supplement administered by the Office of Justice Programs. See Public Laws 103-121, 103-317, 104-134, 104-208, 105-119, 105-277, 106-112, 106-553, and 107-77.The figure does not include funding that is currently being spent for fiscal year 2003.

[v] Gareth Davis, David B. Muhlhausen, Dexter Ingram, and Ralph Rector, "The Facts About COPS: A Performance Overview of the Community Oriented Policing Services Program," Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis Report No. CDA00-10, September 25, 2000, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Crime/CDA00-10.cfm; Christopher Koper, Jeffrey A. Roth, and Edward Maguire. "Putting 100,000 Officers on the Street: Progress as of 1998 and Preliminary Projections Through 2003" in the National Evaluation of theCOPS Program: Title I of the 1994 Crime Act. eds. Jeffrey A. Roth, Joseph F. Ryan, Stephen J. Gaffigan, Christopher S. Koper, Mark H. Moore, Janice A. Roehl, Calvin C. Johnson, Gretchen E. Moore, Ruth M. White, Michael E. Buerger, Elizabeth A. Langston, and David Thatcher(Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, 2000), pp. 149-178.

[vi] David B. Muhlhausen, "Do Community Oriented Policing Services Grants Affect Violent Crime Rates?" Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis Report No. CDA01-05, May 25, 2001, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Crime/CDA01-05.cfm.

[vii] David B. Muhlhausen, "Do Community Oriented Policing Services Grants Affect Violent Crime Rates?".

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