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Report Card on COPS

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 47 Issue: 2 Dated: February 1999 Pages: 76-80
A G Sharp
Date Published
5 pages
This article presents the findings of a survey of police administrators throughout the United States to solicit their views on the implementation and effectiveness of the COPS program, a Federal plan to put 100,000 new police officers on the street by the year 2000.
The COPS plan was announced by President Clinton on January 25, 1994. As the 6-year time frame nears its end, the survey reported in this article queried police administrators about how the COPS program has impacted their departments. Of the departments polled, 83 percent have taken advantage of some facet of the program. Most (46 percent) applied for the Universal Hiring Program grants. Some 95 percent of the respondents said that hiring new officers has been beneficial to their departments. Similarly, 93 percent reported that the funding they have received for equipment, technology, training, etc., has improved their departments' effectiveness. Most departments have been so satisfied, in fact, that they have applied for grants more than once. Still, only 14 percent of the respondents said the results of the COPS program can be accurately measured; only 16 percent of the respondents said the crime rate has dropped in their communities as a result of the COPS program; 21 percent said it had not; the rest were not sure. There were some administrators, however, who expressed reservations and some skepticism about COPS. Those who have not applied for grants as well as those who have are concerned about the continuity of funding beyond the specified time. When Federal funding stops or is reduced, then personnel must be laid off if departments cannot sustain a larger budget. Others complain that the grant stipulation that officers hired under the grant must be used in community policing is too restrictive. Overall, the program seems to be having a positive effect on law enforcement and crime rates. The question is whether it will continue.