Washington - Overcoming an effort by U.S. House Republicans to kill the popular program, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today announced that $166 million in federal funding has been secured for the Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring (COPS) Program. The program, which provides competitive grants to help local police departments hire and keep officers on the job, was de-funded by Republicans in the House of Representatives earlier this year, while the Senate provided $200 million. As a group of House and Senate members negotiated the final Justice Department spending bill, Menendez had kept up the fight to ensure that funding for the community policing and crime fighting programs would continue.
"While it defies reason, Republicans in the House tried to kill funding for COPS," said Senator Menendez. "We could not let that happen. Nothing is more important than the people's safety, and that's why I fought so hard to restore as much funding as possible for this incredibly popular - and effective - program. New Jersey communities have had to lay off hundreds of police officers because of dwindling local resources and every dollar we can provide will bolster their community policing efforts."
Menendez also announced $470 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program which allows states and municipalities to engage in a variety of crime prevention activities based on their own state and local needs. JAG funds are used for area initiatives, technical assistance, training, personnel, equipment, supplies, and information systems for criminal justice.
The $166 million in COPS funding and $470 million in Byrne (JAG) funding included in the final Justice Department spending bill was passed by the House and Senate today and will head to the President's desk for signature.
More than 700 police officers were let go in New Jersey just this year and there are 4,000 fewer officers today in New Jersey than there were at the end of 2009. In October, 12 communities in New Jersey received a total of $20.8 million to hire and support 78 officers for the next three years. More than 150 New Jersey localities had applied for the COPS grants.
Earlier this week, Menendez and Congressman Pascrell travelled to Clifton, NJ for a press conference with the Mayor and Chief of Police to underscore the local need for funding to hire police officers.
Earlier this year, the House appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012 did not fund the COPS office at all. The U.S. Senate appropriations bill funded the COPS hiring grants at $200 million.Last week, Menendez led a letter to House and Senate negotiators calling for the funding of the COPS and Byrne (JAG) programs at the highest levels possible.