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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
October is crime prevention month: four weeks in which our nation pays special attention to the public safety needs of our communities. But at the COPS Office, every week,—indeed every working day—is dedicated to preventing crime, and last month marked the 25th year we’ve been dedicated to this effort.
Founded in 1994 to advance the practice of community policing by our nation’s state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies, our focus is on preventing crime by proactively addressing the conditions that give rise to it through problem-solving techniques, partnerships with other organizations, and, most importantly, collaboration with the communities each agency serves.
By earning the community’s trust and encouraging its members to become stakeholders in their own safety, law enforcement can better understand and address their needs and the factors that contribute to crime. With the people’s support, officers can also respond more effectively when problems arise.
Collaboration is another important aspect of our philosophy, and we promote law enforcement partnerships and collaborative efforts with other agencies, as well as with local, state, and federal entities, through a wide variety of programs, including training to help community leaders work cooperatively with their local police department or sheriff’s office.
But public safety is not our only concern. The COPS Office has long been active in promoting the safety and wellness of our law enforcement personnel—our nation’s police officers and sheriff’s deputies who work valiantly to serve their communities. Our efforts take the form of supporting research and innovation with grant funding, providing technical assistance and training, holding forums to gain new insights, and developing a wide array of publications and other resources to support law enforcement agencies.
Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to add community policing officers to the nation’s streets, deploy cutting-edge crime-fighting technologies, develop innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to agencies of all sizes. This includes:
And there has been progress in many areas. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, there has been a substantial decline in the violent crime rate since the 1990s. The FBI data shows a 49% percent decrease, and the BJS statistics show a 74 percent decrease, both through 2017, the most recent full year of data.1
This decrease is attributed by many experts to the increase in the number of police officers on the streets, a change supported by the COPS Office, as well as the application of community policing principles and greater emphasis on research and data-backed strategies. For data on the results of our crime prevention efforts, please see The Effects of COPS Office Funding on Sworn Force Levels, Crime, and Arrests: Evidence from Regression Discontinuity Design.
But though the crime rate has been going in the right direction, there is still far too much crime and fear of crime in many of our communities. And as long as there is any crime, we will continue to focus on improving the safety of our nation and our law enforcement officers—every month.
– Director Keith
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