Order Code 97-196 GOV
Updated March 6, 2003
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
The Community Oriented Policing Services
(COPS) Program: An Overview
David Teasley and JoAnne O’Bryant
Domestic Social Policy Division
The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, administered by the
Department of Justice (DOJ), provides financial assistance to eligible police departments
to help improve community policing efforts. Under the Consolidated Appropriations
Resolution for FY2003 (P.L.108-007), the Community Oriented Policing Services
(COPS) program is operating for another year with funding appropriated at $928.9
million for FY2003. The budget request for FY2004 is $163.7 million. The budget
proposal includes a realignment of almost half of the programs administered under
COPS to the Justice Assistance, Improving the Criminal Justice System under the Office
of Justice Programs in DOJ. Although proponents argue that community policing
involves a new approach to policing, the Department of Justice has been conducting
research on this approach for many years. By late 1992, approximately 300 police
departments nationwide reportedly incorporated elements of community policing in their
law enforcement efforts. Congress approved legislation establishing the COPS grant
program, namely the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-50) and the
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322). However,
authority to make grants for hiring and rehiring officers through COPS expired in
FY2000. Funding was appropriated for the COPS program for two fiscal years beyond
the program expiration date. Reauthorization of the program remains uncertain.
Legislation to reauthorize COPS, however, was introduced in the 108th Congress (S.6).
This report provides an overview of the COPS program, including a brief
discussion of the establishment of the program, guidelines and requirements for
grantees, and a summary of various Department of Justice initiatives under the COPS
program. Updates on this report will be made as legislative action occurs.
Establishment of the COPS Grants Program
Police departments administer community policing programs to reduce and deter
crime in neighborhoods and to help citizens feel safer in their communities. Some
examples of community policing include police officers walking in a community; officers
on bicycle patrol; more visible police cruisers; police satellite centers (in shopping
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
centers, stores and recreation centers); and residential officer programs in selected
communities across the country.
During the 103rd Congress, legislators enacted various provisions encouraging law
enforcement agencies to use a community policing approach and providing federal
funding for hiring additional police officers. Also, during his 1992 presidential campaign,
and again in his 1994 State of the Union Address, President Clinton promised to put
100,000 more police on the streets and expand the community policing program. Next,
Congress passed three acts providing funding to hire more police officers. First, the
Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-50) provided $150 million to hire or
rehire over 2,000 additional local law enforcement officers. Second, the Commerce,
Justice, State, Judiciary Appropriations for FY1994 (P. L. 103-121) signed into law on
October 27, 1993, provided an additional $25 million for community policing grants to
state and local governments.
Last, Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994
(P.L. 103-322), signed into law on September 13, 1994. The Public Safety Partnership
and Community Policing Act, Title I, established the Cops on the Beat program and
authorized a total appropriation of $8.8 billion: $1.332 billion for FY1995, $1.85 billion
for FY1996, $1.95 billion for FY1997, $1.7 billion for FY1998, $1.7 billion for FY1999,
and $268 million for FY2000.1
COPS Program Requirements
Under Title I of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the
Attorney General is authorized to award grants to states, localities, Indian tribal
governments, other public and private organizations, and regional consortia to increase
the number of police officers and to concentrate those officers on community policing
deployment. Funds may be used to hire new officers (including former members of the
Armed Services), rehire officers who have been laid off, provide training to officers to
improve interactions with communities, obtain equipment or support systems, or provide
overtime pay. Funds also may be used for other purposes, such as: to train law
enforcement officers in crime prevention and community policing techniques; develop
technologies that emphasize crime prevention; link community organizations and
residents with police; develop innovative programs; and support the purchase of not more
than one service weapon per officer hired or redeployed.
At least 85% of available funds must be used to hire or rehire officers or procure
equipment, pay overtime, or build support systems. No more than 15% may be spent for
the other purposes specified in the statute. When funds are used to add police officers,
the costs of hiring or rehiring each officer generally cannot exceed $75,000.
Up to 3% of appropriated funds may be used for technical assistance provided by the
Attorney General, development of a flexible model for the application of community
Named the Cops on the Beat program under Title I of the Act, the program is now more
commonly called the COPS Program. To fund the COPS program and other anti-crime
initiatives, the 1994 Crime Act established the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund, Title 31.
Funds for programs authorized by the Act must be provided in the annual appropriations bills.
policing strategies by state and local governments, or for evaluations or studies. Fifty
percent of the amount remaining must be reserved for local governments or private
organizations serving populations of more than 150,000. The other 50% must be awarded
to those serving populations of 150,000 or less.
In awarding grants, the Attorney General has discretion to give preference to
applicants that exceed the 25% match requirement generally required. The federal share
of a grant that covers more than one year must decline from year to year. Grants for
purposes other than hiring or rehiring officers may cover not more than three years.
Grants for hiring and rehiring may be renewed for up to five years. State and local
governments may use seized assets in their match requirement. Federal funds
appropriated for law enforcement on Indian lands may be used by tribal governments to
meet matching requirements. The Attorney General may waive the 75/25 match
requirement for applicants.
If all applicants cannot be funded, a minimum of at least 0.5% of appropriated funds
are allocated to each qualifying state, together with grantees within that state. Qualifying
states are those that meet statutory requirements, as well as those set by the Attorney
General. Statutory requirements include development of a long-term strategy,
demonstration of public safety need and the need for federal assistance, and certification
that the application has been coordinated with affected agencies. Jurisdictions with
populations of less than 50,000, and those applying for grants of less than $1 million, may
receive a waiver from application requirements as well as expedited processing. “An
appropriate amount of funds” must be made available to Indian tribal governments.
Although Attorney General Janet Reno established the COPS office within the
Department of Justice on October 9, 1994, the Department of Justice (DOJ) had already
awarded a number of COPS grants before the office was created. As described above,
DOJ distributed funds from the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-150)
under the Police Hiring Supplement Program (PHS). Distributed between December
1993 and May 1994, PHS awards funded 2,003 officers at a total of $148,421,993.
The Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Act of FY1995 (P.L. 103-317), signed
into law on August 29, 1994, provided $1.3 billion to fund the COPS program. The 1994
Crime Act (P.L. 103-322) signed into law on September 13, 1994, provided authorization
for these and later COPS program monies. In October 1994, President Clinton and
Attorney General Janet Reno announced the award of Phase I grants from the FY1995
monies authorized in the 1994 Crime Act. The final Phase I total as of March 1999 was
2,779 officers funded at a total of $200.2 million.
On November 1, 1994, the COPS Office announced that grants would be awarded
under two programs: (1) COPS AHEAD (Accelerated Hiring Education and Deployment)
The following brief discussion of various COPS programs is based on U.S. Department of
Justice. Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. COPS Facts. July 1996 and
December 1998. For further information on COPS program grants, DOJ’s web site address is
[http://www.usdoj.gov/cops] or call DOJ’s Response Center at 1-800-421-6770.
grants for municipalities with populations of 50,000 and above; and (2) COPS FAST
(Funding Accelerated for Smaller Towns) grants for towns with populations below
50,000. COPS AHEAD grants permitted interested agencies to begin recruiting and
hiring new officers immediately in anticipation of later COPS grant funding. In June
1995, COPS AHEAD and COPS FAST were superseded by the Universal Hiring Program
(UHP). The final DOJ totals for these two programs (COPS AHEAD and COPS FAST)
as of December 1998 were $683,333,866 for over 10,000 officers.
Table 1. Total of COPS Grants Awarded for New or Redeployed
Officers from FY 1995 to FY 2000
Number of Officers
Police Hiring Supplement (PHS)
Universal Hiring Program (UHP)
COPS MORE and MORE ‘96a
COPS MORE ‘98
Youth Firearm Violence Initiative (YFVI)a
Distressed Neighborhoods Pilot Project
Small Communities Grant Program
Source: Adapted from U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. COPS Facts. March 1999
and COPS website [http://www.cops.usdoj.gov], April 11, 2000.
Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.
Under the COPS MORE and YFVI programs, numbers of officers and funding totals apply only to the redeployment of law
enforcement personnel. The number of officers funded under COPS MORE ‘98 was not available as of July 6, 2000.
Totals taken from most recent COPS website update, April 11, 2000.
COPS Programs: New and Redeployed Officers
As the authority to hire officers under the 1994 Crime Act approached the FY2000
expiration date, the COPS program’s elimination appeared imminent. COPS received
a deep cut in funding in FY2000 but the funding increased and remained steady the
following fiscal years. Congress funded the COPS program at $1.050 billion under the
Commerce, Justice, State, Judiciary appropriations (P.L. 107-77) for FY2002. COPS
received $1.037 billion in FY2001 (P.L. 106-553). For FY2000, $595 million was
provided under the Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 106-113). This amount is
approximately a billion dollars less than amounts funded in previous years. A total of
$1.4 billion each was appropriated for FY1996, FY1997, FY1998, and FY1999 under the
Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-134), and
the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY1997 (P.L. 104-208), and the
Department of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies
Appropriations Act, FY1998 (P.L. 105-119), and the Omnibus Consolidated and
Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for FY1999 (P.L. 105-277) respectively.
FY1997 funds for the COPS program may be used for police hiring initiatives but not
other community policing strategies or training. Figure one below shows appropriation
funding trends for COPS from fiscal years 1996 to 2003.
Figure 1. COPS Funding FY1996 to FY 2003
($ in millions)
Source: P.L. 104-134 for FY1996-1999 appropriations, P.L. 106-113 for FY2000 appropriations, P.L. 106-553 for
FY2001 appropriations, House Conference Rept 107-278 for FY2002, and Consolidated Appropriations, P.L. 108007 for FY 2003.
Since the enactment of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994
Crime Act), several law enforcement initiatives were developed under COPS. Two
popular COPS programs, that provided over $5.2 billion combined in funds to agencies,
are the Universal Hiring Program (UHP) and the COPS Making Officer Redeployment
Effective (COPS MORE).
Universal Hiring Program (UHP)
The COPS Universal Hiring Program (UHP) was developed under the 1994 Crime
Act to deploy additional officers devoted to community policing on the streets and rural
areas across the country. UHP enables interested agencies and jurisdictions to supplement
current sworn forces or establish new agencies through federal grants for up to three years.
UHP replaced three hiring programs, Phase I, COPS AHEAD, and COPS FAST, that
were built on the foundation of the 1993 Police Hiring Supplement (PHS) program. As
of October 2001, the COPS Office awarded, under FAST, AHEAD, and UHP grants, a
total of $4.4 billion to hire 61,000 new officers.
On December 14, 1994, the COPS Office announced another grant program, COPS
MORE (Making Officer Redeployment Effective). COPS MORE grants were designed
to expand the time available for community policing by current law enforcement officers,
rather than fund the hiring of additional law enforcement officers. COPS MORE provides
funds to acquire new technologies and equipment, hire civilians for administrative tasks,
and pay for officer overtime. This initiative was developed to redeploy officers so more
of their time is spent on the streets instead of at the station. The COPS Office awarded
grants under COPS MORE in 1995, 1996, 1998, and 2000. In 2001 up to $81 million in
funding is available to law enforcement entities nationwide.
In addition to UHP and COPS MORE, several law enforcement initiatives have
emerged under COPS in recent years. For example, two police hiring initiatives
announced by the COPS Office in December 1998 include the Safe Schools and Indian
Country law enforcement improvements initiatives. The Safe Schools initiative was
designed to enhance the partnerships between law enforcement agencies and schools to
improve safety in elementary and secondary schools and to hire school resource officers.
Second, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2000, (P.L. 106-113) up to $40
million was appropriated for hiring uniformed officers and to assist with other law
enforcement improvements on tribal lands. These programs continue to receive funding
under COPS. The table below provides a breakdown of the most recent funding
appropriation totals for selected COPS programs and activities that assist state and local
law enforcement agencies across the country.
Table 2. Appropriation Levels for Public Safety and Community
Policing Programs Under COPS in FY 2001 through FY 2003
Public Safety and Community Policing
FY 2001 (P.L. 106-554)
FY 2002 (H.Rept. 107-278)
FY 2003 (P.L. 108-007)
Hiring Law Enforcement Officers/School
Resource Officers (SROs)
$408,323 ($180,000 for SROs)
$330,000 ($180,000 for
SRO’s and terrorism efforts)
Training and Technical Assistance
Tribal Law Enforcement
Methamphetamine Enforcement and
School Violence/Project Sentry
Source: Department of Justice online budget documents, www.usdoj.gov for FY 2001, House Conference Report 107-278 for FY 2002, and
Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, P.L. 108-007 for FY 2003.
In addition to COPS grants for new or redeployed officers, funds from the program
were awarded for other initiatives, research, and training in law enforcement in the 1990s.
The Youth Firearms Violence Initiative (YFVI) was developed in accordance with the
Public Safety Partnership and Community Policing Act of 1994 (Title I, P.L. 103-322).
Under this program, the COPS Office awarded in September 1995 up to $1 million to 10
police departments to combat the rise of youth firearms violence. The COPS Anti-Gang
Initiative promotes earlier YFVI grant efforts by applying community policing strategies
to reduce the rise of youth gangs in 15 local communities. Also, DOJ announced over
$14 million in November 1995 for evaluation and research grants to police agencies,
universities and criminal justice facilities to evaluate community policing. DOJ’s training
grants provide funding for community policing to public safety, educational and research
organizations. Programs funded under the COPS include the Advancing Community
Policing program, the Visiting Fellowship program and the Regional Community Policing
Institute. Other COPS programs included Troops to COPS and Community Policing to
Combat Domestic Violence.