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Director’s Column: March 2013

It is with a mixture of pride and regret that I tell you that this is my last contribution to the Dispatch. After 3 ½ years in Washington and 40 years in this profession, I will be leaving the COPS Office to return to California and figure out what comes next.

For nearly 3 ½ years I have been given the privilege of leading an office in the Department of Justice that is solely dedicated to providing direct assistance to America’s law enforcement agencies; local, state, and tribal. I have traveled to 32 states and two foreign countries, visiting executives and line officers alike. My deeply held belief—that the professional men and women of American law enforcement are committed to making their communities safe and to ensuring that the constitution is a living reality—has been validated countless times.

Nevertheless, our profession is changing dramatically. This change is being brought about by several factors, the most obvious of which is the impact of the 2008 economic downturn. There is also the changing nature of public expectation and the changing demographics of both society and our officers. Lastly, there is what some have called the changing nature of harm; that is the changing face of crime (e.g., identity theft has replaced robbery; prescription drug abuse kills more people than street narcotics).

Since its inception in 1994, the COPS Office has been well known for its grant making capacity, particularly in those grants associated with the hiring of officers. Though less well publicized, the office has provided critical assistance in the form of other grant programs, including Community Policing Advancement, Cops in Schools, Secure our Schools, and Technology. As the amount of available funds continued to shrink, the number of grant programs available to local law enforcement has been reduced to two; the COPS Hiring Program and the Community Policing Advancement program. Both of those are funded at substantially lower levels than in previous years.

Our focus over the last four years has been to find ways to maximize the impact of limited federal dollars, and help agencies cope with the changes that were impacting their efforts to deliver public safety through community policing. We have funded a number of studies on the changing nature of policing and we refined our technical assistance programs to bring more relevant help to local agencies.

We funded a program in Providence Rhode Island called the Teaching Police Department, which was focused on using the medical model of training. We developed a program in partnership with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department called the Collaborative Reform Model. This helped Las Vegas develop some needed changes without resorting to a DOJ consent decree. LVMPD was able to implement its changes in a fraction of the time and cost.

In short, the COPS Office has done its best to follow the Attorney General’s directive, which was to make a positive difference for American law enforcement. I, and all the men and women here at the COPS Office, have done our best to do that. I cannot begin to describe what a personal privilege it has been for me to be here in the COPS Office and to have been able to spend my adult life working at something I love doing. I wish you all the best and I thank you for letting me be of service.

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Work in Progress — From Tragedy to Healing: Oak Creek, Wisconsin | COPS Office Micro-Grants: Small Investments, Big Results | A Role for Officers in Schools | Training the Trainer: The PACT360 Learning Center | Crowd Management – The Retail Perspective | Did you know…?