The COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) of 2009, P.L.111-5, and provides $1 billion directly to law enforcement agencies to hire and/or rehire career law enforcement officers in an effort to create and preserve jobs and increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts.
CHRP is different from previous COPS hiring grant programs. Given the fiscal distress experienced by state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, Congress waived the previously required 25 percent local match and the $75,000 salary cap. CHRP grants cover 100 percent of the approved entry-level salary and fringe benefits of each newly-hired and/or rehired, full-time sworn career law enforcement officer over three years (36 months) with a 12-month retention period. The Recovery Act does not itself require a local match or cap on the amount of funding that can be requested, but CHRP grant funding is based on an agency’s current entry-level salary and fringe benefits for full-time sworn officers.
Funding under this program may be used to:
An applicant may not reduce its budget for sworn officers just to take advantage of CHRP funding. Any budget cut must be unrelated to the receipt of CHRP grant funds to avoid a violation of the COPS statute nonsupplanting requirement. The hiring or rehiring of officers under CHRP must be in addition to, and not in lieu of, officers who otherwise would have been hired or rehired with local funds.
The COPS Office developed an open competitive solicitation for all local, state, and federally recognized tribal law enforcement agencies that have primary law enforcement authority. To receive applications, the COPS Office developed a new, on-line application system that was made available to agencies from Monday, March 16th to April 14th, 2009, 11:59 p.m. EDT. During this solicitation period, the COPS Response Center responded to 17,626 telephone calls, 589 voicemail messages, and 4,300 e-mail messages providing technical assistance to agencies in filling out the CHRP application.
This application resulted in the submission of applications from 7,272 law enforcement agencies requesting $8.3 billion to fund more than 39,000 officer positions.
Developing the Application
The statutory mission of the COPS Office is to advance the practice of community policing as an effective strategy in communities’ efforts to improve public safety. Part of the stated intent of the Recovery Act from which CHRP funds are allocated is: 1) to preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery; 2) to assist those most impacted by the recession; and 3) to stabilize state and local government budgets, in order to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and counterproductive state and local tax increases.
To meet the intent of the statutory requirements noted above, the COPS Office incorporated fiscal health, crime rates, and community policing related measures into the CHRP application. The program development staff, in consultation with experts in the fields of policing, criminology, and public finance, developed questions that attempt to measure the relative fiscal health of law enforcement agencies and their local government entities, information on the number of reported crimes, and planned community policing activities. These questions include such factors as changes in budgets for law enforcement agencies and local governments, poverty, unemployment and foreclosure rates, and reported crimes for the previous calendar year. In asking a variety of fiscal health questions, the COPS Office was attempting to obtain a complete view of the fiscal distress being experienced by applicants through objective and verifiable indicators that all agencies, from rural communities to large cities, can accurately report. Please see the CHRP application and application guide for information regarding specific questions.
A key policy question in allocating the existing funds was how to balance the economic factors against reported crime and community policing factors that were gathered in the CHRP application. It was determined that fiscal health factors would account for 50% of the total score and reported crime and planned community policing activities would also account for 50% of the final score. In this manner, the COPS Office evenly valued the importance of fiscal distress against reported crime and community policing strategies. This 50/50 split was chosen because it strikes the best balance between the purpose of the Recovery Act, which highlights the role that community policing plays in economic recovery, and the underlying COPS statute and historical mission of supporting public safety and community policing.
Each individual question was assigned a score based on the overall weight given to each category (fiscal health, reported crime and community policing) based on a 100 point scale. Specifically, the questions pertaining to fiscal health were constructed to sum to equal 50 points, the reported crime and community policing indicators to sum to 50 points.
Because of the requirement to award ˝ of CHRP funds to agencies with populations greater than 150,000 and ˝ to populations less than 150,000, all eligible applicants were split into these two population groups. Applicants in each group were then ranked on each individual question compared to all other applicants in the group. This individual rank on each question was then multiplied by the assigned weight to that specific question.
State Minimum Requirement Methodology
The COPS Office is required to ensure that at least ˝ of 1% of the hiring funding available (in this case $5,000,000) is allocated to each state or territory with eligible applicants.
To accomplish this, every state was first awarded $5,000,000 in funding to their highest ranked agencies in the state. Each list of agencies (large and small) was then allocated up to their $500,000,000 limit.
The COPS Office intentionally did not impose a cap on officer requests because of the uncertainty with respect to how high the actual demand for officers would be. However, because of the relatively limited funding available compared to the amount requested, and the desire to distribute officers to a larger number of agencies, the COPS Office imposed caps on the total number of officers that were awarded to any individual agency. The COPS Office concluded that, rather than simply give the first-ranked applicants all of the officers they requested, regardless of the size of their requests, the breadth of needs across the country would be best served by a capping system that would limit the size of awards and, thus, distribute officers to more jurisdictions. Without the imposition of such caps, a very small number of agencies would have consumed the entire funding available.
All agencies will be capped at no more than 5% of their current actual sworn force strength as reported in their application, up to a maximum of 50 officers. COPS believes this cap ensure the maximum number of agencies is funded without reducing any particular agency’s award to a level that it would no longer be a meaningful increase to their force strength. Under any circumstances, a fully-funded 5% increase in the workforce would have a significant impact on agency operations. In addition, 50 officers is the equivalent of a 5% increase in an agency of 1,000 sworn, and very few applicants (or agencies nationwide, for that matter) actually have a sworn force strength of more than 1,000 officers. So, only a handful of very large agencies who requested above a 5% increase in their sworn force strength would actually receive less than a 5% boost in their staffing levels, although the COPS Office does acknowledge the significant impact this maximum cap will have on these few large cities.