Director’s Column:  January 2012

It is the start of a new year, and one in which I expect the COPS Office to be very busy. We ended 2011 with some very good news, when on November 18, President Obama signed into law a FY2012 “minibus” spending package (H.R. 2112) that contained 3 of the 12 annual appropriations bills and included funding for the COPS Office. While we were all very happy to have a year-long spending measure enacted so early in the fiscal year, I am sure many of you have noticed that it is a much smaller budget than we have had in recent years.

The total budget for the COPS Office in 2012 is $200 million. The COPS Hiring Program (which alone distributed $238 million in 2011) is only a part of that, along with the Tribal Resources Grant Program, the Community Policing Development (CPD) Program, funding we pass along to the Drug Enforcement Administration for clan lab clean-up programs, and our own operational costs. This budget included no funding for the Secure Our Schools or Child Sexual Predator Program. It also marks the second year in a row that we have no funding for the Technology or Methamphetamine Initiative programs. Our analysis of all the CHP applications last year tells us that child and youth safety, as well as drug use, manufacturing, and trafficking are problems an overwhelming majority of agencies face and hope to address through problem-solving and partnerships. How to continue to help as many of you as we can with those (and other) public safety issues is the challenge we now face.

"All of us here at COPS, along with our partners throughout the Department of Justice, remain committed to helping you help the communities you serve. I hope you have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year."

We are currently conferring with our stakeholder representatives—the associations many of you belong to—to help gather ideas on how best to focus this money and how we can prioritize who to fund when we receive thousands of worthy applications. We are also analyzing the data we have from prior year requests to understand what areas our applicants are most interested in, and working with other parts of the Department of Justice to understand the agency priorities and how we can support them. Flexibility is going to be important to ensuring we can maximize the impact of these funds.

There are, however, some things we cannot change. For example, our authorizing language requires us to award half the hiring money to agencies serving more than 150,000 people, and half to those who serve smaller communities. We also have to meet a state minimum requirement that says each state with eligible applicants must receive one-half of 1 percent of the hiring funding. Yes, these rules do sometimes mean that lower scoring applications in one state are funded ahead of higher scoring applications in others, but even with these sorts of rules in place, there is still plenty of room to creatively design an openly competed program that will truly help advance community policing.

Of course, the COPS Office is not solely a hiring program. Through our Community Policing Development program we sponsor the creation of hundreds of books, CDs, websites, conferences, and trainings every year that are available at absolutely no charge. Every month this newsletter announces the latest product releases available, and every single one of them has been developed by CPD grantees. So if you are concerned that this small budget hurts your chances to receive assistance from the COPS Office, remember that you do not need to be a grantee to take advantage of the tremendous resources that have been developed over the years with CPD funds. And the inclusion of CPD in the 2012 budget means that we will continue to be able to provide the field with innovative and user-friendly community policing tools and training, helping all of us to advance public safety through community policing.
All of us here at COPS, along with our partners throughout the Department of Justice, remain committed to helping you help the communities you serve. I hope you have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.


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