In response to the President’s call to provide new opportunities to our returning military veterans, Attorney General Eric Holder and Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Director Bernard K. Melekian were in Philadelphia yesterday to announce grant awards totaling over $111 million dollars to 220 cities and counties to save or create jobs for approximately 800 law enforcement officers as part of the COPS Hiring Program. Importantly, this year, each of these new hires will be military veterans who have served at least 180 days in our armed forces since September 11, 2001. Speaking at the event, Attorney General Eric Holder said:
These awards are coming at a critical time. Last year, thousands of officers were laid off – and, due to budget shortfalls, thousands of positions could not be filled. In total, 85 percent of all law enforcement agencies reported cuts. However, despite these difficult circumstances, hard-working public servants – like those here in Philadelphia – have found ways to accomplish more with less; to stretch every precious taxpayer dollar; to make meaningful, measurable progress in improving public safety; and to prove the power of community policing methods. With this year’s COPS grant, this work will be expanded and strengthened. And, as a result, a range of priority efforts – especially those aimed at protecting our children and young people from violence and other threats – will be taken to a new level. This year’s incorporation of military veteran is an especially exciting – and promising – step forward. Communities nationwide will benefit from the experience and expertise that these veterans will bring to their new roles in law enforcement. And those who courageously serve our country overseas will know that their fellow citizens – and leaders across this Administration – are committed to taking care of them when they return home.The COPS Hiring Program makes grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers. The program provides the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years. Along with the pledge to hire military veterans, grantees for the 2012 Hiring Program were selected based on fiscal need and local crime rates. An additional factor in the selection process was the agencies strategy to address specific problems such as increased homicide rates and gun violence. COPS Director Melekian:
Our mission is to promote public safety through community policing, and that involves applying the resources available to areas with both legitimate need and doable solutions. We also remain focused on helping agencies maintain their level of service by protecting law enforcement positions recently lost or threatened to be cut.The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, COPS has awarded over $17 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of approximately 120,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training and technical assistance. For the entire list of grantees and additional information about the 2012 COPS Hiring Program, visit the COPS website at www.cops.usdoj.gov. The Attorney General’s full remarks from the event can be found on the Department of Justice’s website.